Written by Brian Ehresman. Media by Matt Miller.
A few weeks ago, after rolling through the first 12 matches of conference play with an undefeated record, the Greenville College Women’s Volleyball team hit a bump in the road against Westminster College, losing in three straight sets. The Panthers’ conference championship hopes were in a little bit of doubt. However, GC let that adversity push them forward, as they won three straight matches (while Westminster lost two) to claim their 5th straight SLIAC regular season championship, a feat that only Fontbonne in the early 2000’s has accomplished before. They will also be the host and number one seed in the upcoming SLIAC tournament this weekend.
To open the week, GC traveled to Blackburn where it disposed of the Beavers in straight sets. Several players contributed to the victory, as Savannah Sells and Becca Winemiller led in kills with six and five, respectively, and Emily Thebeau collected seven digs. The win set up another showdown with conference rival Webster on Thursday.
The Lady Panthers had already beaten Webster in a tough, five set match earlier in the season, but the Lady Gorlocks came into this match tied with Greenville for the top spot in the conference.
“Previously playing them and taking them to five, I knew this was going to be a big game. We would need to work and play at our best level to beat them. Coach Ackerman stressed that we need to concentrate on our ball control and blocking in order to win,” said freshman outside hitter Allyson Mitchell.
Greenville had their backs against the wall early on in the match, playing a Webster team with its home crowd behind it and swinging with a lot of confidence. After losing the first set handily 25-16, GC dug deep to pull out three tight wins in sets 2-4 and take the match 3-1. Mitchell played well beyond her years, as she led the Greenville offensive attack with 16 kills, while Sophomore Sierah Ruffner added 13.
“Being the only freshman on varsity and not having college level experience is a little nerve racking. I am competitive and push myself at every game. There is always the pressure of being a freshman and knowing that the opponent will target you. But most of the time I feel very prepared for the game and confident,” stated Mitchell. Libero Jamie Schollenbruch, coming off her 3rd SLIAC defensive player of the week award, anchored the defense with an impressive 26 digs. Senior Ellen Lueking set up the offense with 49 assists.
After the emotional victory at Webster, the Panthers had a long road trip to Louisville, Kentucky to take on Spalding, a team on the rise in the conference and needing victories to solidify its spot in the conference tournament. GC fell to Spalding in four sets.
“The difference between the two games was that we struggled to execute against Spalding. I believe that we were more than prepared to win against them, but things did not connect when they needed to and we ended up on the bottom. Spalding played really well that day; however, we are very excited to face them again Saturday in the conference tournament,” said Mitchell. Nicole Schaeffer had 14 kills while Ruffner came down with 10.
With a win against Eureka on Tuesday, the Lady Panthers would clinch the SLIAC outright, before hosting the SLIAC tournament on Saturday, November 8. You won’t want to miss it!