The Webster University volleyball team swept the Blackburn College Beavers 25-10, 25-11 and 25-12 in Carlinville, Ill., on Tuesday, Sept. 18. The victory puts Webster at 4-5 this season and 3-1 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Despite being in third place in the SLIAC this early in the year, compiling a 2-1 record during the past week and losing only four sets in those three matches, the Webster University volleyball team is disappointed.
In two matches in Elsah, Ill. on Saturday, Sept. 15, Webster went 1-1. After winning 3-0 over Spalding University (Ky.), the Gorloks were swept 3-0 later that day by Greenville College (Ill.). Coach Merry Graf said it looked like two different Webster teams playing.
“In the game against Greenville we weren’t able to execute our attacks, which caused a lot of problems,” Graf said.
In the match against Greenville, Webster’s hitting percentage was .096 with 34 kills and 24 errors. That, compared to the earlier game against Spalding, was an almost 200-point drop, as the Gorloks hit .267 on 39 kills and had only 12 errors.
“That is not what I expect,” Graf said. “We are a better hitting team than that and we have some strong attackers, but we made too many mistakes.”
Webster hit .364 at MacMurray College on Sept.18. That is the Gorloks’ best percentage since September of last year when they hit .376 again at MacMurray.
Sophomore outside hitter Jenny Howard, who was named the offensive SLIAC Player of the Week for Sept. 10 through 16, returned from injury on Sept. 15, and in her first three matches she leads the team with 31 kills.
“It feels great to be back and to get that award,” Howard said. “I definitely felt a little bit of pressure like they were focusing on me, but we got the ‘W’ and that’s all that matters.”
Howard was out for a week and a half with a sprained left LCL, a ligament that is located on the outer side of the knee.
Also returning from injury this week was junior defensive specialist Liz Abraham and 2011 Webster blocks leader, sophomore middle hitter Emily Ratkewicz.
“We had a lot of injuries and it was really hard to get the team together and running smoothly,” Howard said. “Now we’re taking the steps to getting back to where we expect to be.”
All three played in the past three matches, but none are 100 percent healthy and were limited in playing time. Graf believes they should all be close to all the way back by their next matches on Saturday, Sept. 22.
“It’s awesome to look forward to having them all the way back against our next conference opponents,” Graf said. “Now that they have some time under their belts, it will be a lot smoother.”
As the team comes back to full strength, Abraham said she expects the team to improve on their third-place ranking in the SLIAC.
“We want to be back in first place,” Abraham said. “We need to play hard together as a team. I think we can doso. We are excited.”
Webster continues its string of conference matches with two Sept. 22 matches at home against Fontbonne University and Westminster College.