Written by Nathan Craig. Media By Laurie Hannula Photography.
Greenville College Women’s Volleyball team headed to their second straight NCAA division three volleyball tournament earlier this week. The Lady Panthers found out Monday, November 7th that they would play the Wisconsin Whitewater in Whitewater, Wisconsin. The Lady Panthers then headed to the tournament to represent the SLIAC conference after beating Westminster College to win the conference title. They have achieved the goals they had set out to for the 2016 season by winning their seventh conference title.
Although the Lady Panthers were focused on volleyball, the coaching staff wanted to make sure the ladies got the most out of the trip. The team’s first stopped in Chicago where they went to the Navy Pier and ate at some great restaurants in downtown Chicago. As they continued on their journey to Wisconsin, they visited Lake Geneva where shopping and fantastic restaurants where waiting for them. This experience allowed the team to bond off the volleyball court and enjoy the journey to Wisconsin. However, reality would soon hit as it was time to prepare to take on a tough Wisconsin team.
Greenville started off strong as they were doing their best to get an early lead and take advantage in the match. GC’s offense tallied ten kills but Wisconsin’s offense was too much to handle and they took the set 25-21. The second set was a little tougher for Greenville, as their seven errors lead to many chances for Wisconsin who took advantage and won the second set with a score of 25-15. As the third set approached, Greenville knew their season was on the line. Down 2-0, they had to win this set in order to continue their season. The Lady Panthers brought the fire and energy at the start of the third set, but Wisconsin proved to be too much to handle and ended up winning the set 25-17 resulting in a Wisconsin sweep. The Lady Panthers saw their 2016 season come to an end despite all of their efforts.
Leading the offense with five kills apiece were seniors Savannah Sells and Sierah Ruffner along with freshman Cheyenne Vica. Senior Kirsten Laune recorded nineteen assists to help the attack. On defense, the junior class lead the way as Allyson Mitchell had fourteen digs and Brittni Bell produced three blocks. Overall, the team was very balanced and had a great season. Junior Lauren Witte stated, “Even though we lost, the team energy was the highest it has been all year long. We came out strong and stayed strong throughout the entire match. It didn’t turn out how we wanted it to, but we played amazing and it was a great way to end the season.”
Assistant Coach, Ivan Estevez, reflects on the match, “I thought our girls gave it all they had but we just ran into a very talented team that was very hot at home. Even though we lost, it was a great experience for our team and we were very happy with their effort.”
Allyson Grabowski also shared her thoughts on the game, saying that “Playing in the NCAA tournament was unlike anything I had experienced before. It was both nerve-racking and thrilling at the same time. I think the biggest thing we learned throughout the season and at this tournament was to always stick together as a team. This lesson was something we worked at all season and was what finally brought us to the NCAA tournament.”
This experience has only make the Lady Panthers hungry for next season. If you want to see more about the adventures this team had during the season check out the video below!