Coming off of a three-match winning streak at the Carnegie Mellon Invitational in Pittsburgh, the John Carroll University volleyball team had their sights sets on keeping on the winning track. The Blue Streaks opened Ohio Athletic Conference competition this past weekend against rivals Marietta College and Otterbein University. Unfortunately, the Blue and Gold were unable to pick up a win over either conference foe, losing both matches by identical scores of 3-1.
Conference play began when the Blue Streaks hosted the Marietta Pioneers at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center on Wednesday, Sept. 19. After falling to the Pioneers by a clean sweep 3-0 score in 2011, JCU wanted to return the favor to the visiting Pioneers this year.
After falling behind by seven, 19-12, in the first set, the Blue and Gold knew that they had to make a run of their own. From there, the Blue Streaks scored seven straight points to tie the match at 19 even. JCU then stuck with Marietta for the rest of the first set, as the two teams clawed for a lead; but JCU fell just short as they dropped the opening set by a score of 25-22.
In the second set, the Blue Streaks got off to a rough start, as the Pioneers won 12 of the first 15 points, holding a 12-3 lead. JCU failed to make up any ground, as they still trailed by nine, 21-12, late in the set. However, the resilient Blue Streaks squad didn’t give up there, as JCU won eight of the next 11 points, cutting the deficit to four, 24-20. That’s as close as they would come though, as Marietta won the next point, and thus the set, by a 25-20 score.
Trailing by a score of 2-0 after two sets, the Blue and Gold dug deep for an impressive performance in the third set. The two teams were tied at 14 midway through the third set, but the Blue Streaks were eventually able to hold off the Pioneers as they stole the third set by a 25-20 score.
In the fourth set, Marietta pulled away with the victory as they again won by a score of 25-20, handing the Blue Streaks a 3-1 loss at home.
Two days later, on Friday, Sept. 21, the Blue and Gold traveled to Westerville, Ohio to take on the host Otterbein Cardinals, who came into the match ranked 14th in the Division III national volleyball rankings. The Blue Streaks knew that their opponent wouldn’t be an easy one, but still came out of the gates firing.
Fortunately, the Blue and Gold were able to catch the Cardinals off-guard in the first set. JCU initially trailed by five, 17-12, more than midway through the set, but the Blue Streaks again showed their resilience by reeling off 10 straight points to take a 22-17 lead. Juniors Letty Barbi recorded four kills in the set while juniors Charlotte Sykora and Teresa Noewer had three and two kills, respectively. A combination of strong net play as well as errors on Otterbein’s part helped JCU win the first set, 25-23.
The Blue Streaks struggled from there, losing the second set by a 25-21 score before losing the third set by a score of 25-16. In the fourth and final set, the Cardinals tired the Blue Streaks out as they jumped out to a controlling 20-7 lead before winning the set, 25-11. With the losses to Marietta and Otterbein, the Blue Streaks fall to 6-11 on the season, including an 0-2 mark in OAC play.
JCU will next travel to Bexley, Ohio to compete in the Capital Tournament, hosted by the Capital University Crusaders. The Blue Streaks will open the tournament against the Crusaders on Friday, Sept. 28 at 3 p.m. before facing Alma College, Albion College and Allegheny College.