Crucial Conference Matches Await Yeowomen

Julie Schreiber, Sports Editor

The Yeowomen wrapped up Homecoming weekend with Senior Day festivities at home last Friday night, but the celebrations stopped there. The team, which is currently on a four-game losing streak, fell in a close match to North Coast Athletic Conference rival Kenyon College, 3–2, on its home court in Philips gym. The setback pushed the Yeowomen back to 0–2 in conference and 4–7 overall.

Moving forward, the team will focus on the opportunities that the remainder of the season presents. Head Coach Erica Rau said that her team is more like a “family,” and that she expects them to continue lifting each other up in the face of adversity.

“This is the most supportive, thoughtful, friendly group of young women that I have ever met,” she said. “I am consistently amazed with the way they encourage each other and I am so excited to keep working hard and supporting each other.”

In celebration of the graduating class and its leadership, the Yeowomen opened Friday’s match against the Kenyon Ladies by honoring the seniors: captain Meredith Leung, Krista Langhans, Jill Hostetler, Maggie Middleton and Ave Spencer.

“Senior day was incredibly special,” Middleton said. “Our class of five really stuck together through the past four years, being able to celebrate all our dedication and hard work was incredible.”

Using that momentum, Oberlin battled through five tough sets and maintained control for roughly half the game, but ultimately could not clinch the win. Despite the loss, sophomore right-side hitter Sara Chang said she enjoyed playing the team’s rivals in an intense environment.

“Playing Kenyon was definitely the highlight of our season so far,” Chang said. “After every great point the entire gym was so loud and the energy was so high, and although we lost it was the best we’ve played all season.”

Against Kenyon, the Yeowomen saw strong plays by first-year Lexi Mitchell, who led the team with 20 kills, 8 digs and two assists and blocks. Junior Dana Thomas also had a standout performance, tallying 9 kills, while Chang added 20 assists.

One day later, the Yeowomen traveled to face the Fighting Scots of The College of Wooster. Another pivotal NCAC match, Oberlin started off strong and won the first set, but could not hold on to the lead as the Scots took the following three sets to earn the win.

It was another big game for Mitchell, who led the team with 15 kills and 12 digs while Spencer and Chang checked in with seven kills each. It was a strong day for sophomore Emily Kelkar as well, who owned the floor with 14 digs and five assists on the day.

In order to improve, Rau said she thinks an important change can come from the team’s mental game.

“We are very good athletically,” Rau said. “But sometimes we let the game get away from us if we don’t keep focusing on doing the little things well all the time.”

The Yeowomen continued with their jam-packed schedule on Wednesday when they played an away match against Hiram College. The team dropped three straight sets before losing 3–0 and moving its NCAC record to 0–3. Rau and her squad will look to turn things around when they host DePauw University in a crucial conference matchup at 1 p.m. Saturday in Philips gym.