The John Carroll University volleyball team began the season in fantastic fashion.
The team now stands at 6-1 on the season after securing four wins in the Marcia French Memorial Invitational. This is the strongest start to the season that JCU volleyball has had since the 2011 season.
One thing that makes this team so promising is the depth and number of contributors that head coach Laura Rodeffer has on her team. On Friday, the team swept both Grove City College and the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford at Case Western Reserve University. The Blue Streaks had an All-Tournament team member in the form of freshman Julianne McGervey, who averaged a team-best 3.67 kills per set and a .347 hitting percentage over the four-match tournament.
During a rally in the second set against Grove City, the Blue Streaks prevailed 25-18, 25-23, 25-15 in three straight sets. Offensively, the Blue Streaks were powered by the duo of sophomore Leah Switalski and junior Sarah Orlandi. Defense arguably sealed the win for JCU, when junior Sarah Kaminski recorded 20 digs for the match. The Blue Streaks only allowed Grove City a .047 attack percentage.
In the first set, a pair of kills by sophomore Katie Cosker helped push the JCU lead to eight.
Sophomores Alexa Webber and Kit O’Shaughnessy sealed the set at 25-18 with two kills.
During the second set, the Blue Streaks found themselves trailing before a pair of kills by junior Alex Ehrett knotted the set at 21. Switalski and Orlandi recorded the final points for the Blue Streaks to secure the nail-biting win, 25-23.
JCU took a 3-0 lead, demolishing Grove City, 25-15.
JCU continued the domination after their second set of the day, and easily swept Pitt-Bradford, 25-11,25-17, 25-15. Freshmen Marge Carroll and Kayla Major, along with Switalski and Webber each contributed five kills a piece.
In the first set, after two straight aces from O’Shaughnessy, the Blue Streaks sat on a 15-point lead at 21-6. In the second set, five freshmen started for JCU lead by McGervey who converted half of her swings to kills. After jumping out to an 8-0 lead in the third set, JCU would coast and head into Saturday.
The Blue Streaks kept the momentum rolling with a win over Hiram College (25-15, 28-26, 25-18). McGervey once again led the offense while Kaminski and O’Shaughnessy recorded a combined 31 kills. After an ace from senior Jessica Kodrich that put the Blue Streaks up 13-11, they continued to dominate. Three errors by Hiram allowed Switalski to close out the set.
JCU faced adversity in the second set, as the squad rallied behind from a 19-14 deficit. McGervey tied the score at 21, and along with Switalski, they were able to secure the victory after going into extra points, 28-26.
In the third set, however, JCU never lost the lead. Kodrich recorded her third ace of the match to push the lead out to seven. The JCU defense never allowed Hiram to rally or record more than two points in a row.
To end the tournament, the Blue Streaks swept Wooster 25-19, 26-24, 25-16. Five players recorded at least six kills with Orlandi’s eight leading the way.
In the first set, Wooster tied the score at 18 after two JCU errors. The trio of Ehrett, Switalski and sophomore Maddie McDowell closed out the set with a series of kills. In the second set, despite jumping out to a 10-2 lead, the Blue Streaks found themselves down 24-23.
However, after an error, an Orlandi kill and a Cosker ace, the Blue Streaks were able to pull away. During the final set, the Blue Streaks carried their weekend momentum over to pull out the final win of the weekend.
“It’s great for our team because everyday in practice there is competition in the gym making everyone better,” said O’Shaughnessy. “Having a lot of depth on our team gives us an advantage over our opponents.”