The table has been set, and the West Chester women’s volleyball team has their first postseason meeting set for Tuesday at Heiges Field house in Shippensburg. The team certainly hopes to perform better than they have in the first two meetings with the Raiders this season.
The first match, played back in October, ended in three sets and saw the Rams slip to 3-8 in the PSAC. While their performance was a great deal better in the final game of the season vs. Ship on Saturday; the Rams were still unable to emerge with a positive result. Coach Kassie Bellaver and the girls will have only a few days to fine tune their strategy against the Raiders or see their postseason venture end in short order.
On paper, the two teams are almost identical in terms of offensive production this season. Shippensburg has posted 1,441 kills compared to West Chester’s 1,372. The Rams have a small advantage in attacking percentage (.023) but the Raiders have put up 92 more assists at the close of the regular season. Both sides have proven to be more than capable of putting up points, doing so on a consistent basis all season long.
However, on defense, it is very clear who has been more successful. Ship has registered 362 more digs, 29 fewer errors, and nearly 50 blocks more than West Chester this season. While these numbers are not a conclusive factor in determining the outcome of Tuesday’s match, they certainly must be taken into consideration.
When the two sides met on Sunday in Hollinger, the result was more than promising for the Golden Rams. The team was able to match the Raider’s efforts on both sides of the ball, a feat they were far from accomplishing in their first meeting of the season. And despite a 3-1 final score line, the close match was ultimately decided as a result of a poor performance by the Rams in the 4th set.
The match began with the two clubs trading points until Ship was able to break away for a late 25-21 win. West Chester took the second set 26-24 after a ball handling error resulted in a set clinching point awarded to Lexi Kegerise. The third set was a bit more one sided as the Raiders were leading 16-10 at one point and did not relinquish the lead once it was in their grasp. Now down 2-1, the Rams fell apart and committed a series of errors which led to a .000 attacking percentage in the fourth. The set ended 25-19 to seal Shippensburg’s 26th win of the season.
Kegerise’s 15 kills and three block assists in the game led to her surpassing of the 1,300 kill mark on her career. She will leave behind a legacy as one of the most talented hitters to ever wear the purple and gold ranking 4th all-time in kills. Marina Sharkey was needed to fill the shoes of Cara Reese who is still recovering from an injury suffered earlier in the season. This was not much of a problem for Sharkey as she has seen a fair amount of playing time this season. She would finish the match with nine kills and four block assists. Tori Hutchinson and Mandy Flynn accounted for the majority of the teams 48 assists recording 24 and 21 respectively. Defensively, Dana Markol increased her season total by 14 digs, in addition to three service aces.
“We played well today but had too many unforced errors and service errors. Our serve receive passing was very good but we did not work around their middle blockers effectively. We will win Tuesday if we can have ball control and serve aggressively. We cannot make the same unforced errors that we did today if we want to get to the semi-finals,” Bellaver said following Saturday’s loss.
If the team is able to avoid making the same errors that cost them the match on Saturday, there is no reason why they will be unable to advance to the second round. A win in the quarterfinals would pit the Rams against the winner of the Lock Haven Millersville contest also taking place on Tuesday.
Joshua Shapiro is a second-year student majoring in English and education. He can be reached at JS762110@wcupa.edu