It seemed as if the John Carroll University women’s volleyball team had nixed their struggles to finish off matches as they had a stellar Carnegie Mellon Doubletree Invitational over Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 and finished with a perfect 4-0 record. Two of those wins came in five set matches, a scenario in which JCU was 1-3 in before the weekend.
Following the invitational, the Streaks headed to Ada, Ohio to engage in combat with the 15-4 Polar Bears of Ohio Northern University, who were riding a seven game winning streak.
The squad was one of four fall sports teams for JCU that faced ONU on Saturday. The match served as both teams’ first Ohio Athletic Conference duel of their respective seasons. JCU was hoping to end a losing streak to the Polar Bears that has lasted since October 6, 2001. The Blue Streaks have dropped 17 straight matches to the Polar Bears. However, ONU has not only been JCU’s kryptonite the last 14 years, but for most of the program’s history. The Polar Bears hold the series advantage 37 to 5.
JCU has only ever won one match played in Ada in their program’s history. This time was supposed to be different. The team was looking to ride their recent success into Western Ohio and depart with a .500 record.
The Blue Streaks started strong as they jumped out to a one set lead after winning the first 27-25. Then, set two proved to be a bit more difficult. JCU’s eight errors proved fatal as ONU kept theirs to three.
The Polar Bears went on to win the set 25-19.
The third set was a very close, back-and-forth game. The two teams statistically had only miniscule differences. JCU had two more kills, errors were the same, and the kill percentage for JCU was barely greater than ONU’s.
However, the Blue Streaks continued a common theme of this season and failed to complete the victory. ONU claimed the set 25-22.
In the fourth set, JCU seemed as if they lost their grip on the contest. Uncharacteristic sloppy play led to some disappointing results. They finished with 10 errors compared to ONU’s two, and had only a .068 kill percentage, while the Polar Bears finished with a kill percentage of .205. The set was the dagger in the heart of JCU’s hopes for a win. ONU took their 18th straight win from the Blue Streaks.
JCU dominated the kills category with a 62-54 edge. In addition, they led in assists and digs, 60-51 and 114-93, respectively. Yet, their deficiencies in other areas such as blocks and aces gave ONU a window of opportunity to grab the win. Megan Nieszala’s three aces and Haley Potters’ seven blocks were x-factors for the Polar Bears. Nieszala also tied senior Sara Kaminski of JCU with a game high 32 digs.
A pair of juniors also stepped up for JCU despite the loss. Kit O’Shaughnessy had a match best 47 assists and Alexa Webber led all Blue Streaks with 16 kills.
Luckily for JCU, it did not take long for them to respond to the loss as they hosted Otterbein University on Tuesday, Oct. 6.
The Blue Streaks dropped the first set in a tightly contested battle, but battled back and won the second set 28-26 to knot the match up at one set apiece.
After the second set victory, JCU took over control winning the third set 25-10 and the fourth set 25-14.
Junior Leah Switalski led the team in kills over the four-set match, contributing 18 on the night. O’Shaugnessy continued her strong season as well on Tuesday night, leading the team with 23 digs.
The victory was the first OAC win of the year for the Blue Streaks and gives them a boost of confidence heading into the thick of the OAC schedule.
The volleyball team now sits at 9-10 on the season and 1-1 overall at home. Luckily for JCU, the travel will be light in the coming weeks.
On Saturday, Oct. 10, the Blue Streaks will travel to Wilmington, Ohio to face off with Wilmington College. But upon their return to University Heights, JCU will begin a five game stretch where they play four of their next five games at home starting with a matchup against Heidelberg University on Oct. 13 and ending with a battle against Capital University on Oct. 24.