Volleyball stumbles entering OAC schedule

September 27th, 2007

When last year’s Blue Streak Women’s volleyball team hit the court against Ohio Northern to kick off their OAC schedule, they were comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores. There was only one junior and three seniors to provide leadership.

This year they will open their OAC schedule with a group of seasoned veterans.

The team has already had ups and downs in the young season, but looks markedly improved from last year.

Junior Meagan Gambone has led the attack offensively, leading the team in kills with 235 and placing in the top 10 in the conference.

The defense is led by junior Emily Jackson and sophomore Celia Mastroine.

Mastroine leads the team in digs with 256, and she and Jackson rank seventh and eighth, respectively, in the conference.

It would also appear that the kids are alright, as two freshmen are already making big contributions.

Freshman Meredith McDiarmid ranks fourth in the conference in assists, and her classmate Kate Schafer ranks third on the team in kills.

However, the most impressive number early on is nine, which is how many wins the team has collected before the OAC schedule begins.

To put that number in perspective, Coach Cally Plummer’s squad had nine wins total last season.

While experience has certainly helped the Blue Streaks, Plummer thinks a proper mindset is just as important.

“We really competed, and we’re really fighting hard to win now,” Plummer said “That needs to be consistent, because there are no nights off in the OAC.”

Sophomore Becky Blackley, now finds herself a veteran, shared the sentiment.

“The OAC is a very tough conference,” said Blackley. “Every game we need to go out there and compete hard. It won’t come easy.”

The match with Case was JCU’s final tune up before they kick off their OAC schedule.

The dominating victory further proved the veteran squad is ready to make waves in the OAC this year.

After being swept by Case earlier this season, JCU gained a bit of redemption with the 3-0 victory.

JCU took the first game of the match 30-23, that would be the closest Case got all night.

JCU left no doubt as the went on to win the next two games 30-18 and 30-15.

Plummer, though, is ready for the tests the OAC presents just a year after her team was one spot short of qualifying for the playoffs.

“All these matches were just a warm-up for these upcoming [OAC] matches,” said Plummer. “We didn’t get in [the OAC Playoffs] last year, and that’s every coach’s goal, so I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together.”

The Blue Streaks open the conference schedule on the road when they take on Otterbein tonight.

Their first home conference match will be Tuesday, October 2, when they take on Mount Union at 7:00 p.m., and will be taped for broadcast on Sports Time Ohio.

The veteran heavy team has th talent to make a splash this season in OAC play.