Panthers Serve Up Redemption in Successful Week
Written by Brian Ehresman. Media by Joe Hubbs
Last year, for the first time in the SLIAC volleyball post season tournament, the number four seed knocked off the top ranked team in the conference. Unfortunately, that top ranked team was Greenville College. The fourth seeded team who knocked off the Panthers was Principia College. Saturday morning in Greenville, the two teams squared off once again, and just like last November in the conference tournament, the teams split the first four games and were forced to play a deciding fifth set. This time, however, the result would favor the Panthers from Greenville, who went on to avenge the gut-wrenching loss from the previous year. This was no easy task, as Principia had returning SLIAC player of the year Tess Rountree and a host of other starters back from a gritty team in 2013. However, the Greenville Panthers proved that they had some tough players coming back, and some exciting new weapons in their offensive arsenal. Freshman outside hitter Allyson Mitchell was dynamite at the net. She led GC with 19 kills, while defensive juggernaut, Jaime Schollenbruch, the reigning SLIAC Defensive Player of the Week, had 25 digs to anchor the back row. Sophomore right side hitter Savannah Sells added 15 kills while connecting on an outstanding 54% of her attempts. Principia won the first two games 25-18 and 25-22, as Rountree was unstoppable, and finished with 35 kills in the match. The tide turned in the third set however, as GC won a 25-23 nail-biter. Coach Tom Ackerman made a key change in the decisive run, as he switched back to a 5-1 offense. This allowed setter Ellen Lueking to take the setting reigns and Kirsten Laune to dig up the Principia hitters on the defensive end. Greenville won the fourth set 25-22, which led to a deciding fifth set. Greenville jumped ahead 8-6 on Principia before the two teams changed sides. They eventually held on for a 15-13 win, as Rountree’s spike attempt landed in the net. Sells believed the team’s attitude and slowing down Rountree the last three sets were key to their comeback. “We just picked up our energy and improved through the match.” “I think we got into her (Rountree) head a little bit. We lined up the block on her hitting arm.”
Later in the day, the Panthers breezed past MacMurray in three straight sets by the scores of 25-7, 25-10, and 25-19. Mitchell led again with 16 kills, while Sierah Ruffner had 6 service aces. Nicole Schaeffer added 4 kills and 9 digs. Following the two wins on Saturday, Greenville moved their record to 7-4 overall, and 2-0 in conference play.
Earlier in the week, the Panthers traveled north on I-55 to Lincoln to take on Lincoln Christian. GC took a 4 set victory with Schaeffer spiking 15 kills, Sells 14, and Schollenbruch digging up 20 balls.
After a successful 3-0 week, the Lady Panthers will take on nationally ranked Washington (Mo) University, who already owns a victory over GC from earlier in the season. The game will take place on Tuesday at HJ Long Gym and the Panthers will be looking for more redemption. Come out and support!