History has been made once more at John Carroll University. The volleyball team notched its 20th win of the season against the Capital Crusaders on Saturday, winning in five hard-fought sets, 21-25, 28-26, 18-25, 25-20, 15-12.
While many of JCU’s recent matches have come down to the wire, JCU has gotten into the habit of making close sets and matches fall in their favor.
The Blue Streaks came out of the gate strong against the Crusaders, cruising to a 6-4 lead during the first set. Capital refused to back down, however, first tying the score at nine and then going on an 11-5 run. The Crusaders had a little help from JCU, though, as the Blue Streaks committed eight errors in the first set.
Capital built off of its momentum in set one, catapulting out to a 13-6 lead in the second set of the day. The Blue Streaks clawed back, but the Crusaders held game point at 24-22.
At this point, JCU put in some of its best play of the match.
Two kills by sophomore Leah Switalski, along with a closing kill from stand out freshman Julianne McGervey, sealed the set for the Blue Streaks and tied the series at one. Sophomore Kit O’Shaughnessy’s serves were also pivotal in the run.
The third set seemed as if it would go in JCU’s favor after the team took an 8-5 lead largely in part behind the serving of freshman Mena Afsarifard. This lead was short-lived, however.
With the game tied at 11, Capital went on an 8-point run, taking the lead, 19-12. The Crusaders would never look back, and cruising to a 25-18 victory.
With the odds stacked against them, the Blue Streaks took on a resilient attitude. JCU went up 2-1 in the penultimate set, and would never relinquish its firmly established lead. Sophomore Alexa Webber raked in seven kills while O’Shaughnessy recorded three.
Set five was dramatic from the beginning, with JCU falling behind 3-1. After trading rallies, the Blue Streaks bounced back and kept a 5-3 lead.
There would be six ties the rest of the set, as JCU fought to beat the Crusaders on their home court. Junior Sarah Orlandi and Switalski contributed kills on the closing drive, while Afsarifard got the Blue Streaks to match point, 14-11, from the service line. Orlandi would bury a final kill to walk away with the win.
Switalski batted down 20 kills, O’Shaughnessy notched 51 assists and junior Sarah Kaminski added 24 digs to led the Blue Streaks statistically. O’Saughnessy says that the team’s historic 20 wins can be attributed to the work of head coach Laura Rodeffer over the last three years.
“She came into this program two years ago changing the stigma of JCU volleyball and turning it into a winning program,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Another component has been the hard work we have been putting into practice. We have had a lot of Sunday practices, meaning we’ve had to sacrifice our weekends but we came in every day ready to get better as a team.”
To hold onto first place, O’Shaugnessy said defense is one of the most important aspects.
“We are working on being a scrappy team on defense, being the team that is relentless on defense, throwing our bodies for every ball.”
The Blue Streaks also took the court on Tuesday, Oct. 28 to face off against the University of Mount Union.
In a hard fought battle, JCU fell to the Purple Raiders in three sets 20-25, 21-25, 21-15. Despite a Blue Streak rally in the third and final set, Mount Union hung on to record the match point on a kill by Purple Raider freshman Mallory Silman.
The Blue Streaks now stand at 20-6 on the season with one game left against Muskingum University.