The volleyball team has found a consistent recipe for success this season. With strong offense from the respective hitter-setter combo of KateLynn Riley í10 and Lizzi Beal í12, surprising defense from Kelley Johnson í13 and timely contributions from a host of supporting players, the volleyball team is off to one of its strongest starts in years.
With a road win last week over John Carroll, the team improved to 8-2 overall. The team won in four sets (25-22, 20-25, 25-11 and 25-20). The team received its customary offense from Beal and Riley. Riley notched 12 kills while Beal dished out 47 assists. Beal also tossed in two service aces to continue her versatile play that been evident all season long. On the season, Riley now leads the team with 122 kills ó averaging nearly four kills per game. Meanwhile, Beal has 267 assists in 31 games this season.
In some regards, this should not be surprising. Riley was an All-American at outside hitter last year, while Beal won NCAC Newcomer of the Year as the teamís setter ó the most important position on the floor. As the team replaced the contributions of Ali Drushal í09, the experienced offense was expected to carry the load and they have more than delivered.
Last year, however, even with the trio of Riley, Beal and Drushal, the team didnít really begin to play consistently until it began conference play. This year, the team has jumped out of the gate to win eight of its first ten. The difference? Johnson has held her own at Drushalís old libero spot, notching 157 digs while playing all 33 games this year. Itís hard to underscore the seamless transition between the former NCAC Libero of the Year and the teamís new defensive star.
The story of the year, so far, hasnít just been about Riley, Beal and Johnson. The team has gotten timely contributions when it has needed them. On the road against John Carroll, Erin Webster í13 tallied double digits in kills (16) and digs (21). In the Kilt Classic tournament win two weeks ago, Webster teamed with Margaret Raabe í12 to notch 15 service aces. In last weekís win over John Carroll, Raabe notched another four.
This weekend the team will begin to see just how much progress it has made. Wooster has always been in the upper-echelon of the NCAC, finishing above everyone else except for Wittenberg University and Hiram College. The team will face its stiffest challenge yet on Sunday ó the Tigers will be waiting on the other side of the net.