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JCU volleyball off to a strong start

September 8th, 2011

Three days was how long the John Carroll volleyball team had to re-adjust their starting lineup before they were to play in the 2011 fall season opening tournament in Chicago, Illinois. They had recently lost one of their setters due to an injury, so the question remained whether they could they fine-tune their line up in time for the Chicago-based tournament.

The answer was yes.

Excitement, accomplishment, and perseverance helped the team finish the two-day event with a 3-1 record, losing only to the nationally-ranked University of Chicago, at the Elmhurst College Invitational on Sept. 2-3.

The Blue Streaks took on the Buccaneers of Beloit College in the first match of the tournament. JCU defeated Beloit each set with a total of 10 kills from sophomore Teresa Noewer and 17 digs from junior Melanie Rodriquez.

After the sweep of Beloit, John Carroll was ready to face Lake Forest.

The enthusiasm and intensity kept up as the ladies again won with a sweep against the Lake Forest Foresters. The first day of the tournament ended on a high note, as the Blue Streaks ended the day with a 2-0 record to start the season.

However, the thrill from the first two sweeps was soon to be put on hold when the Blue Streaks lost a player to an illness and lost to the University of Chicago in the first match Saturday.

The Blue Streaks refocused and came back ready to play against Adrian College. Even though the Lady Bulldogs put up a tough battle and won the first set, John Carroll came out on top, winning the next three sets.

Hardwoking players included junior Sarah Slagle, who had 12 kills, and Rodriquez, who posted 25 digs.

The coach of the Blue Streaks, Cally Plummer, was glad to see the way her team played and was pleased with their all-around team effort.

Plummer’s expectations were met, especially when the still growing team was down 24-21 and came back to win the set. She stressed that the team needs to continue building their chemistry on and off the court.

“The team needs to have a match mindset in the gym,” said Plummer. “They need to practice like they are performing in a match.”

Giving credit where credit is due was important to Plummer.

Two players who helped make an impact and played out of position in the back row were sophomore Julia Clark and junior Rachel Hasel.

“The back row really stepped up and passed excellent this weekend to help Kerry [Fox] set,” said Plummer.

At the end of the tournament, senior Kerry Fox ended with a total of 99 assists and 21 kills. Fox was named all-tournament.

Fox was very happy with how the team played. Starting the season off with a 3-1 record is a confidence booster for the team.

“As backward as it sounds, it’s also nice to have a loss in there because it serves as a reality check that we are capable of a very high level of play, but that we still have work to do,” said Fox. “Coming out of the tournament 3-1 is a great starting block for our season.”

Fox is confident that the team will continue to play well the rest of the season, especially during the conference games. The continuation of consistency and intensity will be key for future wins. It’s a mindset.