Webster volleyball team beats Greenville in five sets to cap undefeated week

Webster University volleyball
Webster University seniors Gretchen Rieger (left) and Caroline Kargus (center) block a kill attempt during the Gorloks’ 3-1 win over Westminster College on Sept. 24 at Grant Gymnasium. PHOTO BY VICTORIA CASWELL

The Webster University volleyball team traveled to Greenville College and defeated the Panthers 3-2 in a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match on Sept. 27 in front of a raucous, packed house.
The Gorloks’ win snapped Greenville’s home winning streak. The last time Greenville lost at home was on Nov. 5, 2009, when the Panthers fell 3-1 to Lincoln Christian University.
“It was a big win for us because they had the stands packed and we ended their win streak at home,” coach Merry Graf said. “They had sent out emails to the entire campus to come out tonight and try and keep their win streak going.”
Greenville defeated the Gorloks earlier in the season 3-2 on Sept. 17 in an intense battle. Webser lost the fifth set in that match 16-14.
But this time around, things would be different for the Gorloks. Webster got their revenge, slipping by Greenville 25-22, 22-25, 26-24, 23-25, 15-13.
“It was an intense match by both teams,” Graf said. “Our young team really stayed calm under pressure.”
In the fifth and decisive set, the teams went back and forth, taking turns with the lead. Webster freshman outside hitter Jenny Howard put the match point down to secure the Gorloks’ win.
“We walked in and took the match right out from under them,” Graf said.
Earlier in the week, Webster got off to a slow start in their match against SLIAC foe Westminster College on Sept. 24 at Grant Gymnasium, as Webster dropped the opening set. The team relied on the strength of seniors Elizabeth Linck and Caroline Kargus to pick up the team en route to a 3-1 comeback win over Westminster (23-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18).
Webster rolled over MacMurray College 3-0 (25-9, 25-11, 25-11) on Sept. 24 at Grant Gymnasium to complete the two-match sweep. Linck’s defense was superb, as she stopped numerous kill attempts, and Kargus was all over the net scoring and blocking shots.
“We came out pretty flat against Westminster the first game,” Linck said. “I wouldn’t say they didn’t deserve to win that game — they definitely came out and played hard. But we came out ready to play in the second, third and fourth games, and we were not going to a game five.”
Prior to the matches, Linck watched carefully as Westminster and MacMurray warmed up.
“As a defensive player and Caroline being a hitter, we want to see what their tendencies are,” Linck said.  “I want to see what they normally do, because what they do in warmups they will do in the game. You can see if they are a short-serving or deep-serving team.”
The victories afforded Graf the opportunity to use her whole bench. Kargus said the team was focused on beating Westminster and MacMurray, even with Greenville waiting in the wings.
“We knew we couldn’t look past Westminster and MacMurray with Greenville coming up, but we didn’t come out and play very hard against the Blue Jays,” Kargus said.  “We stayed positive and played great the rest of the day and won six straight games.”
Senior outside hitter Gretchen Rieger said it’s important to get mentally prepared no matter who the Gorloks are playing. But she admits it’s not always easy to do.
“Our energy level is so much higher against a team like Greenville,” Rieger said. “MacMurray is on a different level. The challenge is playing teams that are difficult.”
Linck said Greenville and Webster are both very good teams and depending on the night, either team could come out on top.
“The fact they won the last one by only two points is a good indication of how even we are. We were point to point with them every game,” Linck said.
Webster is now 9-4 overall and 6-1 in conference play. Webster has a SLIAC tri-meet on Oct. 1 in Clayton, as they take on Fontbonne University and Principia College.

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