After dropping its previous five matches, the John Carroll University volleyball team came home with a new intensity to curb its losing ways.
The Blue Streaks blanked Ohio Wesleyan University 3-0 before coming up short in a 3-1 loss to Case Western Reserve University in their two matches last week.
“I think last weekend, we were going through a little bit of a funk,” said senior MaryEileen Dalton. “I don’t think we were quite as mentally prepared as we could have been. So before this week we made a decision to be a tougher group.”
JCU improved to 8-9 by overwhelming a struggling Ohio Wesleyan team in front of the home fans at the Tony DeCarlo Center on Sept. 22.
After Ohio Wesleyan pushed JCU in the first game by tallying 21 points, the Battling Bishops were limited to just 15 and 17 points in the final two games, respectively.
The Blue Streaks were led by sophomore setter/outside hitter Kerry Fox, who recorded nine kills and a match-high six service aces. Dalton also accounted for nine kills.
Coach Cally Plummer said she was impressed at how the Blue Streaks regrouped against Ohio Wesleyan.
“We looked more energetic out there and I think we communicated better, so we competed better as a team,” said Plummer.
Coming off the sweep of Ohio Wesleyan, JCU faced a tall task in CWRU.
Again in the friendly confines of the Tony DeCarlo Center, JCU struck a big blow to the Spartans by taking the first game, 25-23.
However, the Spartans responded in the ensuing three games, winning 26-24, 25-20 and 26-24.
Despite being a non-conference game, the cross-town affair held significant weight in the minds of the players.
“This is a little bit of a rivalry,” Dalton said. “We knew they were coming in here and trying to take us down. We didn’t want to lose at our house.”
JCU’s newly-acquired aggressive style was apparent all throughout the match, however, as the Blue Streaks registered 59 kills on that night, compared to 55 from the victorious Spartans.
Fox again led the charge with 17 kills while sophomore middle hitter Laura Sudo set a new career-high with 13 kills of her own.
After splitting last week’s pair, the 8-10 Blue Streaks enter Ohio Athletic Conference completion tomorrow night with a tough road test against a nationally ranked team.
The Blue Streaks will visit the Ohio Northern University Polar Bears tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
The Polar Bears are ranked No. 4 nationally in the most recent poll conducted by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
ONU improved to 18-1 on the season by going 4-0 and dropping just one game at the Mount Saint Joseph Fall Classic in Cincinnati this past weekend.
The Blue Streaks return home after next week and will play in conference for the rest of the season.
“This is a really important stretch coming up,” Plummer said. “We have to continue to get better. We have an amazingly talented group that can do some damage.”
Editor’s Note: Results from last night’s match against Oberlin College were unavailable before The Carroll News went to print. Log on to www.jcusports.com for details.