After playing a handful of games in rapid succession to start the season, the West Chester University Women’s Volleyball team had a rather tame week in terms of games, partaking in only three contests this week, two of which took place on Saturday. WCU went on the road against Philadelphia University in a non-league match on Tuesday night before going to Lakewood, N.J. to take on Nyack and Georgian Court Universities.

In their first eight games of the season, the Lady Rams proved to be a formidable foe for any competitor, reeling off eight straight victories including a dominant 18-set win streak which was broken during their win over Bloomfield University. WCU’s winning ways persisted against Philly U, although they were pushed to the brink. The match proved to be a five-set thriller, with the Lady Rams’ defense pushing them to victory and a then perfect 9-0 record.

After a back-and-forth affair with Philly U for much of the night, the Lady Rams rose to the occasion when it was paramount by taking the match clinching set 15-4. WCU led the final set 4-3 prior to substituting Marina Sharkey and Lyndsey Iacobelli into the game, and then proceeded to close the frame on a fierce 11-1 run featuring several key defensive plays and kills from the likes of Sharkey and Sam Agostini.

The two teams split the first four sets: 23-25, 25-15, 23-25 and 25-23. Molly Grammar’s 21 kills paced the Lady Rams, while her younger sister, Jillian Grammar, set the table with her 44 assists. Sharkey added nine kills, while Tori Cruciani and Agostini both chipped in with eight.

Although there were many helping hands in the kill column, WCU’s hitting percentage was a ghastly .158, which is merely an indicator of the type of slugfest this match was. Philadelphia U didn’t fare much better, as they were held to a .058 hitting percentage, a product of West Chester’s stifling defense. Cruciani was a menace defensively, coming up with seven huge blocks. Sharkey followed suit, coming up with five rejections of her own. Nicki Yates again served as the Lady Rams’ defensive lynchpin, with her 22 digs leading the way for WCU. Callie Krajcir added 16, Iacobelli had 12 and Bethany Gould had 11.

Saturday’s contests began with a matchup against the struggling Nyack College (1-9). West Chester dominated, as expected, winning three straight sets by no less then 10 points. Victoria Cruciana led the Rams in kills with six. The game was a good chance for West Chester to spread playing time around, giving some of the new faces a chance to hit the court. The game also served as a good warm-up for the tough challenge later in the day. The win put West Chester at 10-0 on the season, with a chance to improve twice in one day.

After the first victory, the Lady Rams faced off against Georgian Court, returning to their ravishing ways, sweeping the three sets: 25-16, 25-17 and 25-15. M. Grammar had 14 kills, while J. Grammar, Cruciani and Sharkey each had four. Allie Duffy had three. J. Grammer also added 19 assists, while Yates and Krajcir had 10 and eight digs respectively.

WCU registered a much healthier hitting percentage this time around, with a respectable .213 for the match. West Chester’s defense again was the driving force behind this victory, putting a stranglehold on GCU as they managed to mustered up a measly .033 hitting percentage.

One old adage that continues to hold true in the sporting world is that defense wins. The Lady Rams’ play early in the season gives credence to this notion, as their defense has definitely been the most dazzling part of their game thus far. If they continue to resemble the defensive juggernaut they are, all while maintaining a focused attack offensively, WCU may very well be on there way to a special year on the volleyball court.

The Golden Rams will travel to Greensburg, Pa., on Friday Sept. 25 to take on Seton Hill and Clarion Universities in the PSAC West Crossover. West Chester will then journey to California, Pa., to square off against California University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the PSAC East Crossover on Saturday Sept. 26.

B.J. Boyer is a third-year student and he can be reached at WB806695@wcupa.edu

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