Written by Brian Ehresman. Media by Matt Miller
A fifth straight regular season SLIAC title. Over 20 wins. Four all-conference players. The accolades are a plenty for the Greenville College Women’s Volleyball team in the 2014 season. However, the season came to a premature end with an upset loss to Spalding in the semi-finals of the SLIAC tournament, hosted by GC. After losing to the Golden Eagles in 5 sets, the Lady Panthers watched Webster go on to win the tournament championship for the 4th straight year, a sight that will certainly keep the Panthers hungry in the future. With a lot of talent returning, the Panthers will be gunning for some more success next year. There were plenty of highlights to go around this year, though.
The Lady Panthers started out the non-conference season with stiff competition. Opening up at Wash U, the team fell to the hosts and Nebraska Wesleyan, before winning its first match of the year against Loras in a five-set thriller. GC then traveled to Illinois Wesleyan University where it faced more tough non-conference foes and split four matches there. Greenville opened the conference season with a record of 5-4, and hardly ever looked back after that. They won their first 12 matches of the conference season before losing to Westminster. The Panthers recovered from that loss to finish with a SLIAC record of 16-2 and a fifth consecutive regular season championship. GC was able to host the SLIAC tournament for the 3rd straight year, but lost in the semifinals for the second consecutive season. In the tournament, senior Joelle Scholten ended her career on a high note, getting 18 kills to earn her a spot on the SLIAC all-tournament team. This was just the beginning of the individual honors for the Panthers. Junior libero Jamie Schollenbruch was named Defensive Player of the Year in the conference, to go along with earning a spot on the SLIAC All-Conference First Team. Schollenbruch amazed fans with her uncanny knack to dig up spikes and get to balls that seemed nearly impossible. The defensive star will now take her talents to the basketball court this winter for the GC Women’s hoop squad. Freshman Allyson Mitchell, who regularly heard chants of “She’s a freshman!” from the GC crowd, was named the SLIAC’s Newcomer of the Year, while being named 2nd Team all-conference. Joining her on the 2nd team was Senior Nicole Schaeffer, who wrapped up an incredible career with her 4th all-conference honor. Schaeffer also finished her GC career with well over 1,000 kills. Senior setter Ellen Lueking was a 3rd team all-conference choice, the third all-conference honor of her career. Lueking was masterful at running the offense, and has been labeled by coach Ackerman as one of the most talented setters he has coached.
While a conference tournament championship and NCAA tournament appearance was the end goal, the Panthers still achieved a fantastic season in 2014. “I would have to say that our season all together was a great one! We overcame a lot through our season and really came together as a team when we needed it most,” Schollenbruch said. While the disappointment of the end of a season may be fresh now, the future once again looks bright for GC. With opposite hitter Savnnah Sells and tough middle hitters Marissa Erwin and Sierah Ruffner ready to team up with defensive gurus Schollenbruch and Kirsten Laune, not even to mention the powerful swing and serve of Mitchell, the Lady Panthers will be right in the mix for another SLIAC championship- both regular season and tournament in 2015. “We owe it to some teams in the conference and I think the returners for next year are serious about getting after,” stated Schollenbruch. Next fall, fans can expect the Lady Panthers to #riseabove the rest of the conference once again.