Volleyball Takes Set from Top-Seeded Tigers
Despite taking the third set from the top-seeded Wittenberg University Tigers 25–22, the Yeowomen dropped the match 3–1 in the first round of the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament. Putting up a valiant fight against the No. 7 Tigers was encouraging for the Yeowomen, who finished their season 7–20 overall and 1–7 in the NCAC.
“We played some of the best volleyball we’ve played all year and we ended up taking a set off them, which I’ve never done in the six years I’ve been here,” said Head Coach Erica Rau. “It was definitely a big accomplishment and everyone left feeling really good about that match even though we lost.”
After the loss last Friday, Oberlin geared up to finish the tournament on a positive note against the fourth-seeded Hiram College Terriers and The College of Wooster Fighting Scots. The Yeowomen fought hard against the Terriers, but narrowly lost in three crushing sets 25–23, 25–20 and 26–24.
In their season finale against the seventh-seeded Fighting Scots, the Yeowomen fell in the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-18, before picking up steam in the third set for a 25–16 victory. Ultimately, they were unable to do any more damage, falling out of the tournament with a 25–16 loss in the final set to Wooster.
Rau attributed Saturday’s performance to the difficulties in the style of play that the NCAC Volleyball Tournament presents.
“Day two is always a hard day,” Rau said. “You still have to play out but you’re not really playing for anything. You’re playing to win but you’re not really playing for a conference championship anymore or to even move up a place in conference.”
The tournament capped off a fairly disappointing season for women’s volleyball, which ended on a 10-game losing streak. Despite their struggles, the players said they are proud of their bright moments throughout the course of the 2016 campaign.
“A lot of us came into the season hoping to have more wins than losses as our primary goal, said senior setter and captain Meredith Leung. “This didn’t happen, but we still had a lot of highlights and a lot of great things to take away from the season.”
Those highlights include Leung setting a school record with 3,224 career assists. A Lomita, CA native, Leung was named Honorable Mention All-NCAC in each of her first three seasons. This year, she led the team in assists with 453 while her 46 service aces rank second on the squad.
The team also suffered numerous severe injuries early during the season, including starting outside hitter junior Claudia Scott, tearing her ACL.
“One of our biggest challenges was Claudia’s injury,” Leung said. “We definitely missed having both her skills and leadership out on the court, but we also got to see some other players really step up and work hard and do a great job in that position.”
Now that the regular season has ended, the volleyball team intends to hone its skills and strategy in the offseason while working to replace the five seniors who will be graduating. With six of their seven wins this year coming in non-conference games, the Yeowomen will look to improve within NCAC play in 2017 as well.
“I’m really excited about the offseason,” Rau said. “It’ll give us a lot of time to work on our individual skills and refine a lot of things that we didn’t have the time to do individually in the fall. The fall is a lot more about team strategy. And we will have a lot of time to work on our offense as well.”
Setbacks aside, the team had high points to be proud of this season. Leung set a school record with 3,224 career assists. The team had a solid stretch, winning three out of four games from Sept. 3 to Sept. 10, when they blanked La Roche College twice and defeated Hiram 3–2. Sophomore defensive specialist Emily Kelkar said that she believes that the team must improve its consistency next season.
“Next year we hope to improve on not letting setbacks determine our successes and not letting one loss lead to another,” she said. “We hope to keep up and elevate our level of play and find and are much looking forward to next season.”