GREENVILLE, Ill. – GC volleyball downed both SLIAC leading Spalding University and NCAA Division II McKendree University on Saturday at the GC Tri-Match in Greenville, Ill.
Both matches proved to provide heated competition at all levels, as each battle was forced into five-sets. Greenville eked past SLIAC rival Spalding 3-2, and mimicked that achievement against McKendree by a familiar margin of 3-2.
With Saturday’s two wins Greenville volleyball moves to 14-5 (8-2 SLIAC) and currently sit third in the SLIAC standings behind Spalding (9-1) and Webster (9-2). The Panthers have won five straight matches, and posted wins in eight of their last nine contests.
In the first match against conference foe Spalding, Greenville came out strong in the first set and took game one 25-22. Sophomores’ Corinne Coon and Taylor Brunner provided the majority of the offense with nine of the 14 kills.
Set two got away from GC and Spalding took the decision 25-21. After a back and forth battle in sets three (27-25) and four (28-26), the stage was set for a fifth set finale. With the pressure on neither team proved to gain more than a three-point lead throughout the final stanza. However, the GC faithful received a monster shot off the block by Coon that delivered the Black & Orange the clutch victory.
"We were very disappointed in the way we played in our earlier meeting with Spalding, and we felt like we honestly were the better team,” commented head coach Tom Ackerman of the Spalding-Greenville series. “We have been extremely focused in the last couple of weeks during practice and that focus paid big dividends on Saturday. All of the preparation paid off.”
Coon led the way with 20 kills, followed by Schaeffer and Brunner with 11 each. Hayley Dodd and Ansley DeVrieze added three aces each and senior specialist Jannell Crow provided 55 assists. Sydney Cooper led the Panthers defensively with 19 digs, followed by Dodd with 16 and Nicole Schaeffer with 14.
"Our underclassmen were huge in this match, Coon is basically having her way with any defense,” added Ackerman. “Having a freshman like Nicole (Schaeffer) and sophomores’ like Brunner and Coon is very exciting for our program".
Next up for the Panthers was NCAA division II McKendree University. The Panthers came out again and took the first set 25-22, but would soon find themselves down two sets to one and on the verge of elimination in the fourth set. With time running out Ackerman turned to freshman Joelle Scholten to give the team a much-needed spark.
"I knew Joelle could come in and help us, but I didn't think she would have quite the impact on the game that she did,” stated Ackerman.
Scholten scored four timely kills in the fourth to turn the momentum in the favor of the battling Panthers, and help the squad fight back to a 25-23 victory. Smelling victory against the Bearcats, Greenville closed out the match with a dominating fifth set performance, stunning McKendree 15-4.
Junior Tricia Gall led the Panthers with 15 kills, a block solo and 3 block assists. Coon posted 14 kills and Schaeffer pitched in another 12. Schaeffer and Cooper both registered 16 digs.
"We know what Tricia is capable of and at anytime she can take over a game. She had a great match,” commented the long time head coach. “Beating a DII team is a big deal for us and it says a lot about our players. They are tough as nails and they never roll over no matter what the score is.”
The Panthers will return to action on Tuesday, October 11 as they travel to Fulton, Mo. to play Westminster College in a 7:00 pm night match.