To start off their season, the Spartans played four matches in Ada, Ohio as part of a tournament hosted by Ohio Northern University (ONU). With a deep and versatile roster, the Spartans looked for a strong start.
In their first set against ONU, the Spartans gained momentum going on a 15-6 run, eventually winning the set 25-18. The Spartans battled hard over the next two sets, constantly trading points against a tough opponent but fell short dropping the sets 22-25, 21-25 respectively. Despite second-year defensive specialist Christine Tamura anchoring the defense with a team high 18 digs over the match, ONU took the match, winning the last set 25-15.
Against Thomas Moore University, the Spartans picked the steam back up, winning the match 3-1. All four sets were close, posting scores of 21-25, 25-20, 25-21 and 25-22. Second-year outside hitter Karly King had a team high 14 kills, and second-year outside hitter Brianna Lemon had 19 digs.
The next day the Spartans started on a high note, cruising through the match against Defiance College, winning 3-0. Head Coach Karen Farrell got to try out different rotations in this match, with a total of 16 players receiving playing time. The team is “not quite set on specific rotations,” commented Farrell.
With the start of a new season, players are stepping up to new roles while the team is incorporating new student-athletes into the fold. Despite the challenges, Farrell said that communication is “a strength of the team right now.”
In the final match against Ohio Wesleyan University, the Spartans had a rough start, losing the first 13 points, and eventually dropped the set 25-12. They went on to take the next set 25-18 by picking up momentum from a 10-0 run. The Spartans started the third set strong with a 14-7 lead, but a strong comeback by Ohio Wesleyan closely lost them the set 25-23. The Ohio Wesleyan Bishops then took the match in the fourth and final set with a 25-11 win.
Second-year middle hitter Haley Sims and fourth-year middle hitter Emma Briggs led the team with highest hitting efficiency, while Sims averaged four blocks per game. Overall, the Spartans went through a “rollercoaster of matches,” but sometimes “ran out of fight” in late game situations, observed Farrell.
High blocking efficiency and stronger serving are goals the team needs to work on for its upcoming matches. The Spartans will take on Eastern Mennonite University on Friday, Sept. 8 and N.C. Wesleyan and John Carroll University on Saturday, Sept. 9, with all three matches held at Horsburgh Gymnasium.