By BRANDY SIMPSON
The University of Mary Washington volleyball team fell to Stevenson University in a five-set homecoming match on Saturday, Oct. 22. Last weekend’s defeat stands as the team’s fifth in a row and their ninth loss in their last 10 matches. The loss brought UMW’s overall record to 15-13 and dropped their Capital Athletic Conference mark to 4-3. The Mustangs boosted their record to 26-2, with a conference record of 6-1.
Prior to the start of the match, UMW President Rick Hurley hit some honorary serves and the volleyball team’s four seniors were celebrated for senior day. The celebrated seniors included Tola Adebanjo, Katie Shiflett, Leslie Truesdale, and the team’s assistant, Stephanie Stinson.
The high-spirited energy from the pregame festivities gave the Eagles momentum into the first set. The Eagles won the opening frame 25-19, highlighted by a great block from junior Karissa Herrick and a fantastic kill from junior Ellen Smethurst. Mary Washington appeared to be making short work of the Mustangs after they took the early one set lead.
The second set was extremely tight, with the Eagles falling to Stevenson in an extended match, 24-26. The Eagles managed to turn things around in the third set, as senior Tola Adebanjo blasted a kill at the end of the set to secure the 25-22 win and inch them one set closer to overall victory.
Set four started off extremely rocky for the Eagles, as the Mary Washington team found themselves in 1-11 hole. The Eagles dug their heels and fought back to push the Mustangs to the limit, but they couldn’t complete the comeback and eventually fell 21-25.
Similarly to the fourth set, UMW got behind early, losing the first eight points, and had to try to claw back in the shortened and deciding fifth set. Again the team fought back, but ultimately fell 7-15 to the Mustangs to lose the match 3-2.
Sophomore Kaitlynn Wickersham led the Eagles with 25 digs, 14 kills and 3 aces. Adebanjo added 18 digs and 12 kills, while defensive specialist Christine Tran racked up an impressive 21 digs.
Head Coach Dee Conway feels that the homecoming defeat was representative of the team’s past 10 games.
“We played hard and executed well for the most part,” Conway said. “However, there were times when [we] needed to execute and we did not.”
In the face of their final conference game and the upcoming conference tournament, Conway feels optimistic.
“The key will be to minimize mistakes and create more opportunities on offense,” Conway said. “Both we are capable of doing. I’m looking forward to conference tournament play.”
The Eagles were victorious this past Tuesday, Oct. 25, in their final regular season conference match against Hood College. With the win, Mary Washington finished 5-3 against CAC competition. The Eagles will travel to square off against Johns Hopkins University and Carnegie Mellon University this Saturday, and then UMW will host York College in the first round of CAC Tournament next Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m.