Volleyball Qualifies for NCACs with Hot Streak
The volleyball team defeated the College of Wooster Fighting Scots 3–0 on Saturday, exacting revenge on a Scots team that handed it a 3–1 defeat earlier this season. The win earned the Yeowomen a bid to the North Coast Athletic Conference Championships, which will be played from Nov. 7–9.
On Wednesday, the Yeowomen faced the Hiram College Terriers on the road, falling in consecutive sets to push the team’s record to 11–16. The loss also moved its conference record to 2–6.
Despite the loss to the Terriers, the team has played well of late, garnering victories in five of its last seven games, including wins over conference foes the Kenyon College Ladies and the Case Western Reserve University Spartans.
The start of the team’s hot streak came on Senior Day, with victories over the Albion College Britons and the Wilmington College Quakers, each by a score of 3–1. The team honored and celebrated the career of Christine Antonsen, the lone senior and team captain. While Antonsen has battled injury this season and has been unable to play, she appreciated the acknowledgement of her strong contribution to the team over the last four years.
“I never imagined not being able to play on my Senior Day,” she told the Review via email. “But my teammates made the day so incredibly special, and I appreciate them so much. The wins made it even better.”
Head Coach Erica Rau was also thrilled with the wins and the ceremony for Antonsen.
“It’s always nice to win at home,” said Rau, “but even more meaningful to win on Senior Day. Even though she [Antonsen] has been sidelined all season, the whole day meant a lot to her. It was a great way to celebrate her and her volleyball career at Oberlin.”
The Yeowomen’s strong play continued at home when they defeated Case Western on Oct. 22 for the first time since 2008 by a score of 3–1.
In the win, the team pulled out a tight fourth set, led by first-year Claudia Scott and sophomores Ave Spencer and Hannah Tyburski, who all posted double-digit kills. Scott and junior Molly Powers had their best games of the season, as Scott tallied 16 kills and Powers contributed 32 digs and 4 aces.
First-year middle hitter Dana Thomas said the win over Case Western symbolized a turning point since it was the start of three consecutive wins over fall break.
“We’ve been able to pull through,” she said of the recent hot streak. “We’ve finally got the recipe down of playing as a team.”
The momentum from the win over the Spartans carried over to a match two days later at home when Oberlin defeated conference opponent Kenyon 3–1 for its first conference win of the season. An all-around team effort helped the Yeowomen fend off the Ladies in a match laden with swings of momentum.
The Yeowomen played as a cohesive unit once again as they took down Wooster, avenging their loss from earlier in the season. Spencer, Tyburski and Dunn led the offense, while Powers commanded the defense and sophomore Meredith Leung paced the team in assists.
For her strong play during the week, Leung was named NCAC Player of the Week. She had 26 assists against Wooster and 109 assists combined in the Kenyon, Case Western and Wooster games. As the team’s setter, she contributed both defensively and offensively, with 12 kills and 37 digs in the last three games.
The team’s determination to improve and pay attention to detail has played a large part in its recent success, according to Rau.
“In the last few weeks, we’ve been focusing a lot on mental game, body language, more intense practices, more individual practices and just becoming less predictable,” she said. “I think this past week, everything we have been working on and saying finally came together.”
While Rau has high hopes for the rest of the season, she takes pride in what her team has accomplished thus far.
“I am so proud of this team and how hard they have worked. There were times they could’ve easily given up on this season, but they never did,” she said.
The team’s final games will come on the road this Saturday against the College of Mount St. Joseph Lions and the Earlham College Quakers.