While we were all celebrating my birthday and the end of the second week of classes, the women’s volleyball team had another busy weekend. The Cardinals played and won three matches in three days, improving their record to 7-0.
They faced Westfield State University first on Thursday night, traveling to Massachusetts to take down the Owls, now 2-7 on the season, three sets to none. The youngest Cards saw great success, with first-year Harper Graves leading the offensive attack with 13 kills, and first-year Phia Bellizzi supporting the defense with 21 digs.
Next, the team traveled to Williamstown to face one of their Little Three rivals in their first NESCAC match of the season. Williams had a slow start to the season, dropping their first three matches of the season and entering this match with a 2-3 record.
The Red Birds fell behind in the first set but fought back to win by a slim margin of 26-24. The Purple Elephants continued to be a challenge in the second set, as the score went back and forth until the end, both teams playing their best volleyball. Still, Wesleyan edged Williams out yet again, this time 28-26. Finally, the Cardinals won the third set with a decisive 25-16 point divide to clinch their sixth win of the season.
The Ephs were no match for underclassmen such as Graves, who again led the team in kills, racking up 11 in the three sets, with sophomore Stasie Litinsky adding 10 more. Graves and Litinsky also led the team in scoring, bringing in 14 and 11.5 points for Wesleyan, respectively. Sophomore Kaira Muraoka-Robertson also showed her support with 37 assists and 17 digs during the match, aiding the team on both offense and defense.
If the Ephs had been able to maintain a kill percentage of .320 as they did in the first set, the match may have been a closer call. However, their offense faltered in the second and third sets, which Wesleyan was able to use to their advantage to come out on top.
The Cards now only have one more match to dominate in order to win the Little Three for the first time since 1992. Wesleyan will welcome defending champion Amherst to Middletown on Saturday, Sept. 30.
The Red and Black finished up the weekend on a high note on Saturday afternoon in beautiful Clinton, New York, against yet another NESCAC team. Wesleyan had the upper hand facing off against Hamilton, who went into the match with a 2-1 record. The Cards impressed yet again, taking the match in three quick sets.
In the second and third sets, the Dirty Birds fell behind briefly but quickly overcame the small deficits to take each set 25-14, 25-20, and 25-12. Hamilton struggled to cleanly play the ball, making a total of 22 errors throughout the match and finishing with a team kill percentage of just .029.
Wesleyan kept up their appearances as in previous matches. Litinsky again impressed, working with her fellow sophomore Nicole Hilton to each maintain a kill percentage well above .500. Muraoka-Robertson added another 40 assists to the team’s stat sheet, with the rest of the team only adding four more.
It looks like the Wesleyan Women’s Volleyball team is buying into the ideals of Coach Ben Somera. Though the players clearly have plenty of talent and experience, their early success could not be possible without the theme of commitment Somera stresses.
“Discipline yourself so no one else has to,” he says. This is a recurring lesson in his practices. Somera also tells his players to “hold yourself accountable to do your job,” and is confident that they will continue to add to their win column if they do so.
I’m sure you all have it marked in your calendars, but the Dirty Birds’ home opener against Conn College is this Thursday, Sept. 21. Conn started their season well, opening up with six wins in a row. However, Hamilton and Williams gave Conn their first two losses of the season this past weekend. Hamilton won their match 3-1, and Williams swept the Camels in three sets. If Wes can keep up their fast-paced, confident play, they should have no problem on Thursday night. 7 o’clock. Silloway Gymnasium. I’ll see you there!
Rose Griffin can be reached at email@example.com.