Yeowomen Face Fierce Competition in California
The women’s volleyball team took to Southern California over fall break to battle Chapman University, Pomona-Pitzer and Occidental College. For a team used to weathering the seasons in one of the coldest regions in the U.S., the chance to spend a week at the beach while facing fresh, non-conference competition was an exciting prospect.
“Spending your week playing your sport in California is an opportunity any Midwestern, cornfield-dwelling student would be grateful for,” senior middle hitter Maggie Middleton said.
The Yeowomen took their talents to Chapman University Oct. 22, but they could not upset the Panthers, who beat them in three straight sets to win the faceoff. Chapman took the lead early, amounting a 6–2 advantage as their initial control continued for the entirety of the game.
The second set of the game featured more back and forth action between the Yeowomen and the Panthers with contributions from key players such as first-year Lexi Mitchell, junior Dana Thomas and senior Ave Spencer. Spencer mentioned Middleton’s “hustling dive” during the game as a sign of the team’s hard work in practice.
Though the effort wasn’t enough to send Oberlin home with the win, there were noticeable team improvements; the Yeowomen dominated the contest 8–6 in overall aces and 5–3 in blocks. Sophomore Sara Chang credits this progression to the team’s determination.
“There were a lot of games where we were down in the beginning and lost the first set,” Chang said. “But we always kept fighting and never gave up, which can be easy to do.”
The Yeowomen also took on the Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer Friday, Oct. 21 and lost a close competition 3–2 after taking the Sagehens to a fifth set. Senior setter Meredith Leung led Oberlin with 22 kills while Spencer and senior Krista Langhans contributed crucial kills and aces respectively. Mitchell also reached 17 kills in the game and fellow first-year Maura Gibbs contributed 12 digs.
“This was anyone’s game until the last moment,” Middleton said. “It’s important to play teams we’ve never played before to test our abilities, and this time we happened to come up a little short.”
The Yeowomen rounded off the week with tough competition from the Occidental College Tigers Oct. 19, falling 3–1 after rallying to win the third set and keep the game alive. Strong contributors to the game included Thomas and Mitchell, with 13 and 11 kills respectively, while Leung added 31 assists.
Head Coach Erica Rau was not surprised by the talent on the other side of the net.
“California has some really good [teams],” Rau said. “It is definitely a hotbed for volleyball.”
Reflecting on her week of California competition, Spencer acknowledged the importance of focusing on the team’s improvement as opposed to the upcoming matches. With only two games remaining in the regular season, the team is ready to find its stride at the right time.
“Looking forward, we are going to try to be more focused on ourselves and how we play,” Spencer said.
The Yeowomen will prepare to rebound from their losses when they face two nationally ranked opponents tomorrow, the Wittenberg University Tigers and the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans. Both matches will be crucial for the Yeowomen as they look to end their regular season with momentum before the NCAC Tournament.
“We are going to go to the conference tournament, but we always want to go up in the standings,” Rau said. “We are going to be able to surprise some people at the end.”