No, the volleyball team is not breaking up. Rather, the team split their four matches at the Carnegie Mellon University Tournament after losing a hard fought battle against Baldwin Wallace University earlier in the week.
On Wednesday, Sept. 20 the Case Western Reserve University volleyball team won the first set 28-26 against Baldwin Wallace, but dropped the next three sets to their adversaries.
The loss was not due to a lack of hustle. Many players on multiple different occasions were diving on the floor, making spectacular digs to keep the ball in play. Tied up at 20 in the first set, third-year libero Noel Jeansonne saved a ball by diving sideways and connecting with the ball with one hand, all in the course of about a second. Of course, the crowd subsequently roared to life.
Every set was competitive, yet the Spartans could not muster any more victories over this local rival.
“We wanted to beat [Baldwin Wallace] into the ground,” third-year defensive specialist Karina Bondelid emotionally declared.
Obviously the result was not what they desired. First-year outside hitter Anna Jaskoviak affirmed this, saying that game will “be separated from other games” because she felt they should have pulled out a win.
Second-year hitter Brianna Lemon had 16 kills and 12 digs, and Jeansonne had a team-high 13 digs. Also contributing were second-year hitters Karley King and Haley Sims, who had 19 combined kills.
Head Coach Karen Farrell, who knew the opponent was good by their undefeated record, stated, “[Baldwin Wallace] felt confident they would win, and we were pressing to get up and stay up. In those final points… we just couldn’t take control of the set.”
On Sept. 22 and 23, the Spartans traveled to Carnegie Mellon and won one match and lost one match each day. The first night opened with a tough match against an undefeated Otterbein University squad in which CWRU lost in three sets. Later in the day, the Spartans played in another three set game, but this time came out on the winning side, defeating Geneva College.
Jeansonne mentioned a special moment that occurred that game.
“I think the whole team was really, really excited when [first-year setter Krystal Wang] got to play. She was in the hospital for the first few days of classes…and everyone was just so excited when she got to go in,” she said.
First-year hitter Katie Kaminski agreed, talking about how Wang played well in her debut and that “both of her assists got kills off of them.”
Unfortunately, as evidenced by the headline, the second day brought its share of heartbreak as well.
The first match of the day pitted CWRU against Salisbury University. The result: the first five-set loss of the season. Any match that comes down to the final set has a certain amount of emotion attached to it, but a loss certainly has the wrong kind. It continually drains an exceptional amount of energy from the players.
“I was frustrated,” Jeansonne and Bondelid both said about the loss.
To make things worse, Jaskoviak noted that there was “no air conditioning in the gym.” Bondelid summed up the feeling of the team pretty well: “Hashtag naptime.”
The team managed to finish strong, winning their last match over Messiah College in four sets. This was a breakout game of sorts for Kaminski, who had 12 kills with zero errors for a .545 kill percentage, and Jaskoviak, who tallied 16 digs in the back row.
Farrell gave high praise for Messiah: “They were the best hustling team we’ve played, and they made us work for every point.”
Farrell likes where the team is right now. Every week she praises the improvement the team is making, but still wants one thing out of her team: confidence.
“Talent without team confidence isn’t enough against the best teams around,” said Farrell.
She knows and believes that the team has the capability to be great; right now, it’s just waiting for that switch to click and ascending to even better play as a team.
Following a 3-2 victory at Oberlin College on Wednesday, Sept. 27, the Spartans are back at home to take on two nationally ranked teams in No. 10 Carnegie Mellon University and No. 18 Washington University in St. Louis on Sept. 30 to start University Athletic Association play.