Sparta would have been proud of the performance by the Spartans this past week.
Although this isn’t Ancient Greece, the Case Western Reserve University volleyball team dominated all three of their opponents at the CWRU Invitational from Sept. 7 to 8. The Spartans swept John Carroll University, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and Defiance College over the course of the two-day tournament.
“The teams we played this weekend may not be the same level of teams we will play [in conference], but the fact that we swept shows that will play our best volleyball and finish the game no matter who is on the other side of the net,” third-year outside hitter Karley King said.
Fourth-year defensive specialist Karina Bondelid added, “I think this will give us a bit of confidence going forward, especially considering our interpersonal connections and comfort level playing with each other.”
In their opening match with John Carroll, the Spartans were virtually unstoppable. King dominated at the net, recording a game-high 11 kills. Second-year middle hitter Katie Kaminski followed suit with 10 kills of her own. John Carroll just could not muster anything offensively, never reaching 20 points in any one set.
St. Mary-of-the-Woods put up more of a challenge but not much more. CWRU won 25-18, 25-22 and 25-14. King had 10 kills in the match while fellow third-year outside hitter Brianna Lemon led the team with 14. Third-year middle hitter Haley Sims provided a strong defense at the net, totaling five blocks.
The final game was a rematch against Defiance, a team CWRU had beaten earlier in the season. The result came easier this time though, with the Spartans knocking off their opponent in three sets instead of four. King and Lemon led the offensive attack with 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Sims again had four blocks and added eight kills to her stat line in this match.
“I saw a level of consistency in our offense that I haven’t seen in the past,” Head Coach Karen Farrell said. “We’re playing at a very high level.”
This tournament was also the first home action CWRU has seen this season, and they felt a sense of comfort and confidence on their home court.
“Playing at home is so much more comfortable,” second-year libero Anna Jaskoviak said. “We get to sleep in our beds the night before and lots of family and friends are usually able to come watch at home. Having that little added support from friends and family can bring some added excitement to the games and push us to play a little harder.”
Even though Horsburgh Gymnasium has been notoriously cold lately, the team still loved being at home.
“I think the biggest differences that I have found are the level of comfort in the gym and the tiredness incurred from traveling,” fourth-year defensive specialist Noel Jeansonne said. “We know the ins and outs of Horsburgh—our team has a few special drills to deal with the low ceiling and we know it’s always freezing, so we warm-up in our jackets and pants so we don’t end up frozen icicles when we play at home.”
It still may be early in the season, but improvement is still visible.
“What is great though is seeing just how much we have improved in one week, from our first tournament to the one this past weekend,” King said. “If we keep committing and getting better at this rate, then I can’t wait to see the things we will do this year.”
The team lost against the University of Mount Union on Sept. 12 in three sets. Through eight matches, CWRU boasts a 5-3 record and are averaging 14 kills and 18 digs per set. The Spartans will travel to New York for the Buffalo State Bengal Challenge on Sept. 14 and 15.