Volleyball Struggles at Kenyon

Kirby Livingston

The women’s volleyball team entered its first North Coast Athletic Conference tournament with an 0–9 record and plenty to prove. The Yeowomen were looking to build off of the momentum from their home opener ten days earlier, where they managed to force a fourth set against a solid Muskingum University squad. The long break between matches provided an opportunity to heal injuries and get some extra practice.

The Kenyon tournament would prove to be the toughest competition the team had faced all season. Unfortunately, Oberlin could not end its frustrating losing streak over the weekend, as it fell to Denison University, Kenyon College, Ohio Wesleyan University and DePauw University.

Things were looking up for the Yeowomen in their first set against the Big Red of Denison University, but they couldn’t hold on, dropping the set 25–21. Frustration would set the tone for the rest of the event.

“It’s always hard to work your hardest for each point and not come out on top,” said sophomore Meredith Siefert. “It can be especially hard to come back from a first set like that.”

They went on to lose the following two sets by identical 16-point deficits, as Denison used a scrappy playing style which frustrated the Yeowomen offense despite a solid effort from first-year Jenna Bange, who tallied ten assists in the game. In the second game of the day, the Ladies of Kenyon College rode a strong show of support from the home crowd to a victory over the Yeowomen in three sets (25–12, 25–14, 25–8). Junior Chinwe Okona again led the offense with another seven kills, while Bange and senior Liz Wong each contributed eight assists. But in the end, Oberlin was its own worst enemy.

“It was clear that the reason we didn’t win either game was due to our own mistakes,” Siefert said, “We really beat ourselves.” The Yeowomen’s first challenge on day two of the tournament was the Ohio Weslyan Battling Bishops, and Oberlin looked to turn the tide from day one.

The Yeowomen got off to a strong start, but again couldn’t hold that momentum and dropped the first set 25–21. The Yeowomen put up a fight but fell in the next two sets 25–12, 25–18. First-year Christine Antonsen spearheaded the offense with eight kills, and Liz Wong added 11 assists and eight digs.

“OWU was a team we know we can play with, and we look forward to facing them later this season,” Seifert said. In their final game of the tournament, the Yeowomen faced one of their hardest challenges of the season, taking on the DePauw Tigers. The Yeowomen lost in three hard-fought sets (25¬–11, 25–19, 25–10), but took away a moral victory from hanging tough with the Tigers.

“Going into this game, I knew Depauw wasn’t going to be an easy game to win,” Siefert said, “but I think it was our best collective effort of the tournament.”

But that energy wouldn’t result in an improvement in their record, as the Yeowomen fell to Hiram College on Wednesday 10–25, 13–25, 14–25. Okona (10 kills) and Lange (11 assists) again set the pace for Oberlin.

The Yeowomen have battled through injury with an already small roster this season, and as a result they have had to make adjustments. Fortunately, they have benefited from a highly talented first-year class this season; at least one first-year is in the top three in major statistical categories such as kills, assists, service aces and digs.

“We’ve definitely had an increase in the number of freshmen we brought in this year,” Siefert said. “Hopefully we can continue building on this class with future recruiting classes.”

Next up, Oberlin will travel to Otterbein University on Friday, Sept. 30.