ELMHURST, Ill.– The Webster University volleyball team was eliminated from the NCAA Division III tournament by Elmhurst College, ranked sixth in the nation, 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-9) on Friday, Nov. 9.
The loss ended Webster’s season with a 24-10 overall record.
“We tried our best to keep our heads up, but fundamentals kind of broke down and we fell apart,” sophomore outside hitter Jenny Howard said.
Howard led the Gorloks with six kills in Game 1. Junior defensive specialist Liz Abraham recorded eight digs in the first game.
Elmhurst took control in Game 2. Webster battled back several times, attempting to overcome multiple seven and eight-point deficits. The Gorloks dropped the game 25-16. After two games, Howard continued to lead the Gorloks in kills, ending the match with 9 and ending the year with 253.
The Elmhurst crowd was raucous from the first serve. Webster’s fans tried to match the cheers the home crowd screamed out. Assistant coach Abby Williams said the crowd wasn’t too much of a factor in the match.
“We’re used to a hostile crowd a little bit,” Williams said. “We were appreciative of our fans that came out. We had our women’s soccer team here, which was awesome. Their crowd was definitely loud and supportive, but it was a good atmosphere.”
Video by Sam Masterson
Webster fell behind 5-0 before getting on the board in Game 3. The Gorloks trailed early and often, once by 16 points, in Game 3 to eventually drop the match and exit the tournament on Day 1. Webster had a .094 kill percentage in the match. Senior setter Sammi Murray led Webster with 13 assists.
“We feel like we could have played a better game, but definitely still a great season, so we can’t really hang our heads for too long,” Williams said after the game. “We got to start preparing for next year.”
After the match, Howard said coach Merry Graf thanked the team and told them to use the loss as fuel for the offseason.
“Coach thanked us, thanked the seniors for everything they’ve done in the program,” Howard said. “She said, ‘Hey, use this for motivation for next year. It’s kind of what Webster’s been known for, at least for volleyball. We win the conference, come out, and lose in the first round.’ She said to use this for motivation, work harder in the offseason, so next year we can come into the first round and get past it and not be a low seed.”