Written by Brian Ehresman. Media by Joe Hubbs
When talking about SLIAC Volleyball, two schools must come up in every conversation. The first is Greenville College, and the other is Webster University. The two squads have been league heavyweights in recent memory, as no other school in the SLIAC has earned a number one or two seed in the conference tournament the past five seasons. In this year’s preseason poll, that trend was expected to continue as Greenville was predicted to win the league title, with Webster right behind at number two. This made last Saturday morning’s matchup between the two schools very intriguing in the conference race. The match lived up to its high expectations, along with the preseason poll, as the GC Panthers edged out the Gorlocks of Webster in five sets. Junior libero Jaime Schollenbruch summed up the importance of the victory. “Beating Webster was a huge win for us…Not only does this make us 4-0 in conference, but it also gets us one step closer to hosting the conference tournament.”
The Lady Panthers came out of the gates swinging, winning the first set 25-16. The next two belonged to Webster however, by the scores of 28-26 and 25-17. “We started out really strong in the first set, but settled in a little too much to let the next two sets get away from us. We came out the next two sets with exactly what we needed, the fight and enthusiasm,” Schollenbruch said. The Panthers fought their way to a tight 27-25 victory in set four to force a pivotal fifth set. The “Cardiac Kids” from Greenville gutted out a 15-11 win to secure the match, and their second come-from-behind five set victory in conference play. Schollenbruch couldn’t help but be a little excited after the roller-coaster match. “This was honestly just a huge team win for us! Everyone stepped up and did what we needed to do.” Setter Ellen Lueking brought her usual leadership from the setting position. She got the ball out to hitters Allyson Mitchell, Nicole Schaeffer, and Savannah Sells, while Marissa Erwin and Sierah Ruffner helped to limit the Webster hitters at the net with strong blocking. Schollenbruch anchored the GC defense, and received plenty of help in the back row from Kirsten Laune and Hannah Baker. Even those who may not have produced a stat or even stepped foot on the court contributed to the victory. “Most importantly, our bench really kept the energy up and were engaged in the game the whole time,” Schollenbruch admitted.
Later in the day, the Panthers swept the Beavers of Blackburn College in three straight sets to complete an undefeated afternoon at MacMurray College and move to 4-0 in the SLIAC.
Earlier in the week, the Panthers hosted nationally ranked Washington University. The number seven Lady Bears used a strong slide play and consistent blocking to hand GC a loss for the second time this season in three competitive sets, 25-18, 25-18, and 25-20. A large home crowd witnessed Schollenbruch notch 18 digs, Lueking dish out 22 assists, and Schaeffer smash 7 kills to lead GC.
Next up for the Lady Panthers will be a home match with MacMurray on September 23, before traveling to Westminster on September 27 to face Spalding and the only other remaining unbeaten team in the SLIAC, the Westminster Blue Jays. The JV Panthers will also host MacMurray on the 23rd, with their match scheduled to start at 4:30.