Volleyball Crushes Competition


Hugh Newcomb, Photo Editor

Sophomore middle hitter Jaya Flynn-Young spikes over the net as junior setter Sara Chang supports in the Yeowomen’s victory over John Carroll University Wednesday.

Will Cramer

The Yeowomen carried their scorching start to the season into Wednesday night’s game against the John Carroll University Blue Streaks, as they dropped just one set in the win. With a 9–3 record, Oberlin heads into its first North Coast Athletic Conference game riding a four-game win streak.

The first set was a closely-fought, back and forth battle with the Blue Streaks. The Yeowomen were able to pull away behind the efforts of sophomore outside hitter Lexi Mitchell, whose kill gave Oberlin the win for the set with a score of 25–23. She would lead the Yeowomen with 17 kills that day. Mitchell, who racked up 309 kills her rookie season, is on pace to post similarly excellent numbers this fall, averaging 13 kills a game.

“[My mindset] is that I can’t just be dead weight on the team,” Mitchell said. “Every point counts. … I want to be a part of the team and push us further.”

The Yeowomen then dropped the second set, which was much less contested, at 14–25. However, they were able to bounce back unfazed, as they took the third set with a decisive score of 25–16. With the match on the line, the Blue Streaks battled back to take a 20–18 lead. However, just as they have all season, the Yeowomen kept their composure and narrowly took the set, 25–23.

Junior setter Sara Chang has been impressed with the team so far, noting the change in mentality from their last season to this one.

“[Our dynamic has changed, so] we don’t falter as much,” Chang said. “If we get beaten one game, we won’t just automatically give up, which is something that happened last year.”

Oberlin’s attack continues to be a key to their success, as they collectively racked up 65 kills in the game. In addition to Mitchell’s 17 kills, sophomore outside hitter Maura Gibbs delivered 15 kills and senior captain and middle hitter Dana Thomas added 15 of her own. Chang, who supplied three aces against John Carroll, also provided necessary offense in the team’s wins.

The trio of Mitchell, Gibbs, and Thomas has been huge for the Yeowomen as of late, as they racked up 42 and 41 kills against Earlham College and La Roche College, respectively.

Sophomore setter Samantha Lam also kept the offense running smoothly, excellently playing her role as a primary distributor, with a career best of 51 assists and 11 digs. Lam has grown into her role after a strong first-year season and has consistently provided the fuel for the ferocious Oberlin attack.

Head Coach Erica Rau, who is in her seventh season with the team, is not surprised with the Yeowomen’s quick turnaround this year, citing their ability to play in sync and with focus, as well as quality leadership from her three captains.

“Our team culture is a lot stronger,” Rau said. “Although they all play different positions and are really different people, [they] work extremely well together. This is probably the best senior leadership we have ever had.”

In addition to improving teamwork and helping her team to gel, Rau noted the emphasis on vision and reading this year, which has resulted in better digs and more precise attacks. Another factor that Rau cited was the growth of the individual players, especially the “very strong” sophomore class.

The Yeowomen will next compete against the nation’s number-one ranked Wittenberg University Tigers at their first conference matchup tomorrow at noon. In what will undoubtedly be their greatest challenge of the year, Mitchell remains confident in her team’s capabilities.

“They’re just a team, just like us,” Mitchell said. “At this level, you can beat anyone as long as you have the mentality to win.”