Volleyball starts hot, cools down

Peter Cooke, Sports Editor

The Case Western Reserve University volleyball traveled to the California last weekend and took the West Coast by storm. The Spartans swept the opening games on Friday, dropping Chapman University 3-1 and beat hosts Pomona Pitzer College 3-2. Saturday found the Spartans playing the #1 and #2 seeds in the Pacific Coast Classic, Claremont M.S. and University of Redlands. CWRU would fall 3-1, 3-2 respectively and returned home 2-2 on the year.

The Spartans opened the weekend with a quality with over Chapman, going 25-21, 24-26, 25-22, 25-17 in the match. Forward Rachael Suchy stepped up and led the attack with a team-high 14 kills. Sophomore Breana Freeman led CWRU on defense, notching team-highs in both assists and digs with 29 and 23, respectively.

The team were dealt a huge blow though, when Senior Beth Karpinski sprained her ankle against Chapman. Karpinski, who has missed nearly all last season with a knee injury, is a key leader on and off the court. Luckily the team was able to adapt with the absence of one its best outside hitters.

The Pacific Coast Classic’s second game saw some turmoil hit the Spartans as they dropped their first set. Suchy and Junior Tricia McCutchan led CWRU at the net, combining for 42 of the teams 65 kills. Suchy averaged a .420 attack average, well above her average of .253 last year.

The team would battle back as CWRU took the next set before storming Pomona Pitzer 21-25, 23-25, 25-17, 17-25 and 15-12.

CWRU met the tournaments top to seeds on the second day and were able to play up to the level and style of play on the west coast. Unfortunately, the loss of Karpinski forced Coach Karen Farrell to set a new lineup for the games that the team wasn’t used to.

“We needed to play perfect in order to win on Saturday, and with a new lineup and tougher competition we didn’t quite step up enough,” said junior Ellie Lyman.

The team would drop the first match in three sets, losing 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 25-21.

The Spartans agained limped out of the gate against Redlands, losing the first set by nine points. The team would wake up, and alternate the next three sets with Redlands, going 16-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23.

“We lost the first match out of lack of energy,” said Lyman. “Saturday we were able to take Redlands to 13-15 in the fifth set, and ended up losing on a terrible call by the referee. It was a frustrating way to end a weekend of playing very well – better than the team has ever looked.” Lyman ended the weekend with 28 kills and a nine blocks, good enough for second on the team.

The close call came on the final point of the game, with Redlands up 14-13 and the Spartans building momentum. Redlands overshot the court, and CWRU should have won the point. The referee, however, penalized the Spartans, claiming McCutchan had crossed the net, awarding Redlands the match.

The Spartans will play host to the Case Western Reserve Tournament this Friday night and midday Saturday when they will play a quadroon of Northeast Ohio squads. Lyman and the Spartans will look to avenge their injustice and hope to make an impact of the Great Lakes Region as they face regionally ranked #5 Mount Union College.