Webster’s Volleyball team won its first match of the season. The team had to push back earlier matches to give more time for its players to be tested for COVID-19.
For the first time since the shutdown ended the volleyball season last March, the Webster team played a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) game. The volleyball team won their match 3-0 against Fontbonne on Saturday, officially marking the return of Gorlok sports. Masked up and with no fans, the volleyball team was just excited to return to competition.
Junior Kyra Gensel played her first varsity game at libero at Webster on Saturday.
“It was so much fun to actually play,” Gensel said. “The energy on the court was great, and we were all having fun and didn’t seem stressed.”
Gensel picked up 18 digs in the match, the second highest mark in her career.
Having to play with masks made communication more difficult for the team. While the players have been practicing in masks, the teams play music in the gym during games to compensate for not having fans. There were several instances during the match where a setter put the ball up to a hitter that was not expecting it.
“[Masks] make everything a bit muffled plus we can’t read each other’s lips,” Gensel said. “There were a few miscommunications where hitters couldn’t hear us calling spots or counting blockers.”
Freshman Alexis Wolf started in her first career collegiate game against Fontbonne. She also had trouble communicating through masks.
“You really have to enunciate and be louder than you normally would be,” Wolf said. “In between timeouts, it’s tough to hear coaches with the music playing. Masks make communication more challenging in general.”
Wolf was named St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference player of the week for her nine kills in the match. She led the Gorloks in kills and also contributed in defense at the net.
“The speed of the game was definitely faster than high school,” Wolf said. “Of course, there were a few nerves at first, but once we started playing they all disappeared. I was able to just focus on my own job because I was confident in my teammates.”
The Gorloks won the first set 25-20, thanks in part to 11 hitting or service errors by Fontbonne. Webster won the second set 25-23 after coming back down 18-13. Webster won the third set 25-22 with Wolf having her best set with five kills. Fontbonne had 22 unforced errors in the match. In a post-game interview, Fontbonne coach Ryan LeGrand called the number of errors “overwhelming.”
Junior Ali Spohr led the team with 12 assists. Kylie Burke and Lauren Borik each had three blocks. After leading the team in kills in 2019, Borik tallied eight in the first match of 2021.
Wolf said the team did a good job serving and had good placement on serves. Webster had 10 aces in the match. Burke, Spohr, Emma Larson and Tori Chichelero each had two.
Hayley Taylor returned to action after missing the 2019 season with injury. She picked up two kills without an error in the match. Taylor played in 48 sets in her sophomore season in 2018 and got 43 kills.
This was the Gorloks first match of the 2021 season. The team had matches pushed back already this season to give the players time to be tested for COVID-19. Fontbonne played two matches prior to playing Webster Saturday. After losing to Webster, Fontbonne is 0-3 on the season.
Webster will have their home opener on Feb. 20, hosting Greenville. Greenville is 3-0, and has only dropped one set this season.