Yeowomen Split Weekend, Earn NCAC Tournament Bid


Photo Courtesy of OC Athletics

The Yeowomen volleyball team regroups during their match against Case Western University on Wednesday, Sept. 27. The Yeowomen enter the NCAC Tournament today against the fifth-seeded Ladies of Kenyon College.

The Yeowomen split their two games last Saturday, winning against the Waynesburg University Yellow Jackets and falling to the Westminster Titans. The volleyball team, which holds a 12–13 record this year, is preparing for the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament, which kicks off today against the Kenyon College Ladies.

With an opportunity to finish with more wins than losses for the first time this decade, Head Coach Erica Rau credits her team’s improvement to her team’s leadership.

“We’ve struggled a little with consistency … but this is by far the most talent I’ve ever had on the team,” Rau said. “We have some young people in important positions which affects consistency, but our three great seniors [Lola Gatti, Dana Thomas, and Claudia Scott] have helped a lot with leadership on and off the court. I think that’s been a really big reason for our improved performance.”

Against Waynesburg, Oberlin won handedly after four sets, thwarting them in all but one. In the first set, Oberlin got off to a slow start, taking a 5–4 lead. But after a scorching hot 15–5 run, the Yeowomen finished the match with a dominating 25–13, and commanded in the second set, 25–7. After a close 20–25 loss in the third set, Oberlin returned for a solid victory in the fourth, 25–18.

Sophomores Maura Gibbs and Lexi Mitchell were instrumental scorers in the victory. Gibbs accounted for 10 of the team’s 40 kills and Mitchell notched seven of her own. Team captain and junior setter Sara Chang, who collected 19 of the team’s assists, and sophomore Samantha Lam, who secured 14, provided key ball movement to the offense. Junior Emily Kelkar led the pack with 17 digs, while Gibbs added 13 to the final tally of 55.

“I think the team played pretty well in the first game,” Chang said. “We let one slip up, but it wasn’t much of a loss of momentum. We were sticking to a pretty basic offense and running it very well, doing the small things — moving as one unit, putting the ball away.”

In the second game of the day, Westminster snuffed out Oberlin in a straight 3–0 flush. The first set was neck-and-neck — Oberlin trailed initially, then tied the Titans at 22 and scored again, but then the Titans garnered three points to win. The second set was close as well, with Westminster winning 25–22. The Titans took the day in a clean third set.

Mitchell once again served as critical on offense for the Yeowomen, dealing 10 kills. Chang bumped up 17 assists. On the defensive side, Gibbs and Lam earned double-digit dig counts by the end of the match, Gibbs with 14 and Lam with 10.

As the big NCAC tournament is largely looming, the season’s conclusion also marks the final games for this year’s seniors. Scott took the time to thank her coaches and teammates before taking the court today.

“I’m very grateful to my coaches and teammates for their hard work and support the last four seasons, and I can’t wait to bring home some last few wins this weekend,” Scott said.

The Yeowomen will begin the NCAC tournament at Wittenberg University, a single-elimination trial that will determine the season’s final outcome today at 3 p.m. The team, which is the eighth seed, will face their rivals the Kenyon Ladies, who are the fifth seed.

“We’re playing Kenyon first in the tournament, which is exciting because they’re [our] rivals,” Chang said. “It’ll be a good game. Last year we took them to five sets, the year before we played twice and beat them once, and it’s a fierce rivalry. I want to beat them so badly, and it’s exciting to have another chance.”