Gators look to rebound after loss to Hiram Terriers
By PAT JAMESON
After a long break, the Allegheny Volleyball team is ready to get back on track this Saturday with a match against Kenyon College.
It will be the Gators’ first contest since losing to the Hiram College Terriers last Wednesday at home in their “Dig Pink” Game, in which the proceeds went to benefit Breast Cancer awareness. While the Gators lost their match, they succeeded overwhelmingly in their fundraising efforts, making almost $1,000 dollars selling T-shirts and baked goods.
Hiram, which is second in the NCAC conference with a 4-0 record (14-6 overall), defeated the Gators by winning three sets to none. The Terriers used a ferocious offense and stingy to defense to defeat the host Gators (8-13, 1-3 NCAC).
Despite the final score, Allegheny started the day strong, narrowly losing the first set by a score of 27-25. After leading 10-9 midway through the set, the Gators traded scores repeatedly with the Terriers, eventually reaching a 25-25 standstill off a clutch kill by Sarah Swartz, ’16. However, two straight points by Hiram ended the Gator’s chances and the set.
The rest of the match was not as close, with Allegheny losing 25-12 and 25-11 in the final two sets. While Allegheny hung with the Terriers for long periods of time, Hiram’s offensive firepower was too much for the Gators and they pulled away in the later stretches of each set.
The Terrier offense is ranked among conference leaders in several categories including hitting percentage and kills, while their defense is atop the NCAC in blocks.
“Hiram is a very strong offensive team,” Head Coach Bridget Sheehan said. “We struggled with matching up with their big hitters from the outside.”
Despite the Hiram offensive output, Allegheny’s own offense was bolstered by a strong underclassmen performance, as the Gator offense was able to do damage against the Hiram defense throughout the day.
Sophomores Taylor Samuel, Baylie Sheppard and Sarah Swartz were particularly effective, notching 10, seven and five kills apiece.
Bailey Gawley, ’17, was dominant as well, contributing nine kills of her own. Defensively, Catherine Kasianowicz, ’15, led Allegheny with 11 digs while Sheppard had 10 and Samuel eight of her own.
Sheehan also pointed out setter Jessica Napierata, ’16, as a player who is constantly improving and helping the offense to evolve.
“We need to be more consistent with our serve receive offense and transition game,” Sheehan said. “However, as a team we are playing a much better overall game than last season and will only continue to improve.”
According to outside hitter and captain Julia Weeks, ’16, the long break allowed the Gators to regroup and get back to basics in preparation for Kenyon.
“We’ve been focusing on perfecting the fundamentals for the game on Saturday,” said Weeks. “This weekend we plan to go all out and fight for every point no matter the score.”
Sheppard echoed this sentiment, stating that the Gators will use the loss against Hiram as motivation to improve.
“In our game against Hiram we saw some good and some areas where we need to improve as a team, “Sheppard said. “For Kenyon we’ve been working on speeding up the offense to keep our competitors out of system and improving our overall hitting percentage as a team.”
Allegheny versus Kenyon will take place this Saturday in Gambler, Ohio. The match is set to start at 3 p.m.