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JP. O’Hagan, Sports Editor

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Volleyball team splits both days of opening tournament

The Spartans will look to build on last weekend’s steady performance at their home opener tournament starting tonight. The Case Western Reserve University volleyball team opened the 2014 season with a 2-2 performance at the Otterbein Classic played inside the Rike Center. The Spartans defeated Buffalo State College in four sets on Friday night and then beat Kenyon College in three straight sets on Saturday while falling to Alma College and Maryville College.

The first official Spartan sporting event of the season was marked by a strong win over Buffalo State last Friday night. The Spartans won the first, third and fourth sets of the match, 25-23, 25-13 and 25-21 respectfully. Buffalo State stole the second set in an extremely close 24-26 final.
Sophomore outside hitter Isabelle Wagner and junior middle hitter Haley Kauffman led the Spartans offensively in the win, tallying 24 kills between the two of them. Kauffman’s performance was highlighted by only two errors in her 25 attempts (0.360) and her four aces off the serve. Three Spartans had double digit assists, with Robyn Marks leading the Spartans with a team best 18 assists from the floor. Defensively, junior libero Katie Best tallied 19 digs against Buffalo, the first step toward her All-Tournament nod.

The second match of the night came was against Alma. Case Western Reserve found themselves in a 2-0 deficit after dropping the opening sets by scores of 25-16 and 25-19. The Spartans wouldn’t go down without a fight, however, and rallied to claim the next two sets by scores of 25-23 and 25-22. The comeback was not enough however as Alma grabbed the final short set by a score of 15-9.
Kauffman added to her first match numbers with another eight kills on a 0.368 hitting percentage and while freshman Jessica Justice set for the offense with 16 assists. Junior outside hitter Carolyn Bogart led the defensive effort with a career-high 23 digs. Best contributed another 19 digs.

Early the next morning, the Spartans again found themselves on the losing end of a four set match. Maryville, the Spartans lost by scores of 16-25, 25-22, 23-25 and 23-25. Freshman outside hitter Ganiru Anunike recorded 10 kills and Wagner matched the mark to lead the squad.
Anunike committed just one attack error in 23 attempts for a splendid 0.391 average and led the team with three service aces. Justice and Marks split time setting for the offense and totaled 22 and 17 assists, respectively. On defense, Best led the team with 23 digs, while senior outside hitter Carolyn Bogart added another 10 for the Spartan.

The Spartans rebounded nicely however, with Wagner again leading the Spartans offensively, this time with nine kills, hitting at a 0.304 average. Junior right side hitter Danielle Witri had seven kills of her own and Kauffman and Kenya Moyers both added five hits of their own. Marks accumulated a team-high 15 assists in the Kenyon set and sophomore specialist Kayla Petro dug out the Spartans on 10 occasions and Best added nine of her own to reach her celebrated All-Tournament award of 70 digs.

The 2-2 start was just the beginning for the Spartans as they prepare to co-host the 2014 Marcia French Memorial Invitational starting tonight at the Veale Center. They will open against the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford at 4:00 p.m. and finish the night against and Muskingum University at 8:00 p.m.