Volleyball holds own versus elite team

Margret Giles ’18  (center) in action versus Central College on Thursday, Sep. 17. while Olivia Fromm ’17 (left) and Sydney Vrecenar ’18 (right) look on.  Photo by John Brady

Margret Giles ’18 (center) in action versus Central College on Thursday, Sep. 17. while Olivia Fromm ’17 (left) and Sydney Vrecenar ’18 (right) look on.
Photo by John Brady

SAM CATANZARO, Sports Editor

catanzar@grinnell.edu

Last Saturday, the women’s volleyball team lost both of their matches at the Illinois Wesleyan University Tournament in Bloomington, Ill.

“We could have played better,” said Olivia Fromm ’17.

The hosts of the tournament defeated Grinnell 25-9, 25-16 and 25-18. Illinois Wesleyan sits just outside the top 30 in Division III volleyball rankings, and they showed off their talent versus the Pioneers with a fast-paced offense. Grinnell was unable to speed up their defense enough to combat Illinois Wesleyan’s fast offense, a reason Jennifer Joy ’16 attributed to the loss.

“I don’t think we prepared sufficiently for that,” she said. “But going into this weekend we knew that it was going to be tough. They were definitely excellent.”

The morning of the tournament got off to an ominous start for the Pioneers as setter Margaret Giles ’18 suffered an allergic reaction. Sydney Vrecenar ’18, however, stepped in and did not disappoint.

“She did a really great job and stood out,” Fromm said.

Other standouts include Ariel Lepito ’17 and Sarah Garringer ’18 who each collected four kills, Sydney McClendon ’16 who served two aces and Joy who had 10 digs.

“Lepito was really killing it,” Joy said.

The third set with a score of 25-18 was a close affair as the Pioneers managed to hold their own against an elite opponent. But it was too little too late for the women, something that has been a pattern throughout the season.

“Our team has this tendency to have a slow start and bring the heat right when we are about to lose, which is tough,” Joy said.

Looking back on the performance, Joy and Fromm agreed that playing a good team like Illinois Wesleyan, win or lose, is beneficial because exposure to such a high level of play makes the Pioneers a better team.

“Our coach [Jackie Hutchison] really puts an emphasis on learning from the games we play in and the experiences we have in them,” Joy said.

While the loss to Illinois Wesleyan was understandable, Grinnell’s 26-24, 25-15 and 25-14 loss to Aurora University was unacceptable according to members of the team.

“We should have beat Aurora,” Fromm said. “There were just a lot of stupid mistakes in that game.”

In the game, Fromm had seven kills, Vrecenar collected sixteen assists and Evelyn Weidman ’17 served up two aces.

Grinnell is now 0-9 on the season and will begin Midwest Conference play Friday at Lawrence University in what looks to be an exciting affair.

“Lawrence is probably on the same level as us. It will be a close match,” Fromm said.

Joy acknowledged that the teams are evenly matched but is optimistic about the Pioneers’ chances.   

“Lawrence is a decent team but Lawrence is a match we win. I am confident about it,” she added.

This begins the third and final phase of the Pioneers season in which the team buckles down and looks to earn a spot in the Midwest Conference Tournament that will be held in early November.

“It’s time to cut the bullshit. We need just bring our game and there’s no more time for learning,” Joy said.