“This is probably the most talented team we’ve ever had… [The pressure to achieve] with this roster is innate,” said Karen Farrell, the head coach of the Case Western Reserve’s volleyball team.
Farrell, entering her 18th season at the helm, believes this group of women has the opportunity to succeed at the highest level this year.
The Spartans boast an experienced, deadly offensive attack, headlined by fourth-year outside hitter Karley King. A year ago, King earned All-University Athletic Association (UAA) First Team honors. At the net are two dominant middle hitters, fourth-year player Haley Sims, All-UAA Second Team in 2017, and third-year teammate Katie Kaminski, who earned All-UAA Honorable Mention in 2018. Rounding out the attack is fourth-year outside hitter Brianna Lemon. Lemon was named to the All-UAA First Team in 2017. She has developed into a solid all-around player for Farrell by developing her back row defense in recent years.
Two talented starting setters, fourth-year Faith Ellis and third-year Jordyn Harberts, return back to Case Western Reserve University’s volleyball team. The Spartans will rely primarily on these two to provide quality passes to the powerful hitters up front. Likewise, third-year libero Anna Jaskoviak returns to anchor the defense for another season.
Farrell knows her team’s strength lies in their offense. She believes that if they can consistently serve and receive well, they have the chance to win and compete in most of their tournaments.
Unfortunately, in their first game of the season, the Spartans’ serve-receive struggled. As a team, CWRU totaled 12 receiving errors on serves in this match against Kenyon College on Aug. 30. That statistic doesn’t include the passes that messed up the system offensively. CWRU just couldn’t gain any momentum and lost in straight sets.
However, the team came back Saturday with two dominant performances against Denison University and Bethany College (W.V.), sweeping each match.
Against Denison, CWRU barely won the first set with a score of 27-25. However, Farrell noticed that once the team won that set, morale was boosted, which helped the team overcome an early-season hump. Soon after, the Spartans easily took home the next two sets with scores of 25-18 and 25-10.
Again, serve-receive proved to be a crucial factor in this match-up. CWRU limited their receiving errors to only four total. The defense played well in every aspect of the match as well, limiting Denison to a mere .152 hitting percentage. The Spartans also served well, with nine aces.
First-year right side hitter Gianna Lambert, as well as Kaminsky and King, each had eight kills. Ellis provided 20 assists, while Harberts assisted on 10 kills.
The Spartans continued their dominance against Bethany College in their last game of the weekend. CWRU only had 3 serve-receive errors en route to a 3-0 victory. Bethany College, a top contender in their conference according to head coach Farrell, only managed a .114 kill percentage. Lemon had an outstanding game, collecting 10 kills and 12 digs. Kaminski, King and Sims added 20 more kills, and Jaskoviak led the team with 14 digs.
CWRU faces a tough test on Friday, Sept. 6 at home against John Carroll University. John Carroll traditionally attracts a lot of fans due to their close proximity to CWRU’s campus.
Farrell added that every match is extremely important and her team cannot overlook any team on the schedule, especially if the Spartans want a chance to qualify for the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Now, it is all about turning potential into victories. The Spartans’ boast a team featuring four of the best players, Ellis, King, Lemon and Sims, to come through the program in it’s history.
“We’re still figuring out how good we can be,” Farrell noted.