After losing their last game in three sets to Lock Haven University, West Chester volleyball hosted Millersville University on Tuesday, October 2. In early September, WCU claimed first place in the Millersville-hosted Marauder Clash tournament.
The 231 people in attendance witnessed a great match, as West Chester and Millersville traded sets until it came down to the fifth set. The Lady Rams took the victory (20-25, 25-20, 25-27, 25-21 and 15-12) in one of their hardest-fought games of the season so far, having to come back from a two set to one deficit. A hitting percentage of .421 in the fifth set helped West Chester seal the deal.
First-year Julia Vreeswyk led the Lady Rams with 17 kills, along with four blocks. She was followed by Rachel Robb who had 15 kills, while adding in three blocks. Defensive specialist Nicki Yates finished with three aces and 22 digs, which lead the team. She also dished out four assists. Team captain Jillian Grammer made her presence known in this match, as she racked up an outstanding 59 assists, along with 19 digs and two aces. Grace Whitney displayed prowess on offense and defense when she blocked nine opponents’ attempts, as well as contributing twelve kills.
Head Coach Katherine Bellaver had this to say on the win: “It was a fantastic match. The crowd was loud and enthusiastic and anytime you play five sets it is sure to be exciting. I was happy for the team that we were able to get the win.”
She also stated this in relation to her captain as well as her first-year players, “Jillian Grammer was a difference-maker not only with her setting, but with her serves at the end of the fifth set. Our two first year players, Julia and Grace, also delivered when the match was on the line. They are playing at a high level. I am expecting this weekend’s matches to also be point for point and the team is looking forward to the challenge.”
West Chester players then traveled to Shippensburg to take on the Raiders last Friday, Oct. 5. It was not a successful trip, as their PSAC foe defeated them in a sweep (22-25, 23-25, 16-25). WCU stuck with Shippensburg through the first two sets, only losing a set by a maximum of three points. West Chester ended the game with a dismal combined hitting percentage of .045, while the Raiders were a clinical .303 in the final set to close WCU out.
Fourth-year Allie Duffy finished with the team-high in kills with eight—also adding in four blocks and nine digs. Grace Whitney followed Duffy with six kills, while leading the team in blocks with four. Third-year Robb was the only one with an ace in this match, serving up three. Grammer had more than 50 percent of the team’s assists, finishing with 25 out of 32. Nicki Yates led the team in digs with 18.
When asked about whether it was Shippensburg dominance or West Chester underperforming, Coach Bellaver had this to say, “We struggled offensively for sure. Our block was strong but we continued to dig ourselves a hole with unforced errors. However, both of our middle hitters did well today. We need to refocus for tomorrow to get the win against UPJ.”
The Lady Rams had little time to ponder their previous defeat since they traveled the next day to face the Pitt-Johnstown Panthers. West Chester once again bounced back from a loss to a win, and once again it was not an easy task (21-25, 25-21, 12-25, 25-22, 15-10). After an almost costly and lackluster third set, highlighted by a hitting percentage of -.067, they rallied and went on to come back and win in the fifth set.
Vreeswyk had a team-high 25 kills on the match, followed by Duffy with seven and first-year Sarah Polacek who had six. Duffy also shined on the defensive end with four blocks to lead the team. Rachel Hutchinson topped the team with two aces while team captain Grammer dished out 43 assists. Grammer was all over the stat sheet, she also had an ace, three blocks and 15 digs. Yates led the team in digs once again with 25. Alex Gleason had a solid game, serving up an ace of her own along with two assists and 12 digs.
When asked about how the team responded after the third set, Coach Bellaver responded by saying, “That was a team win today. We are already missing our senior OH Abbie Dischert due to a season-ending injury, and then we lost another OH, Bree Fisher today with an injury early in the first set. So, we had several young players step up and got the job done.”
She noted the play of first-year Vreeswyk: “Julia Vreeswyk was outstanding, even though she was under the weather all weekend. Her 25 kills carried us to the win.”
West Chester’s PSAC record now stands at 6-3 as they return to Hollinger Field House to take on Sheperd University on Tuesday, Oct. 9. The Lady Rams then travel up to Kutztown University on Friday, Oct. 12 and then to East Stroudsburg on Saturday.
Tyler Grace is a second-year student majoring in economics and finance. TG885739@wcupa.edu.