By MIKEY BARNES
In a season that holds much promise for the University of Mary Washington volleyball team, a team that lost no seniors to graduation from the year before, hopes are high as are the expectations as the Eagles get the regulars season in full swing.
In an opening back and forth battle against counterpart Randolph-Macon on Wednesday, September 2, the University of Mary Washington volleyball team lost a five-set heartbreaker.
After winning the opening set in a close manner by a score of 25-22, UMW dropped the next two with scores of 25-16 and 25-20 respectively. The Eagles prevailed in the following set with a score of 25-21. In the final set, Macon jumped out to a quick and early lead and at no point looked back as they cruised to a 15-9 victory in the final set. Sophomore Rachel Hendricks led the way for the Eagles with 19 kills.
The Eagles traveled to Newport News to redeem themselves in the Captain’s Classic on Friday, September, 2, where the eagles opened up strong. They beat Bridgewater College in a quick fashion in the opening set with a score of 25-17. UMW began to pile it on as they took the following set by a score of 25-11.
The Eagles completed the three set sweep with a closer score of 25-22. Hendricks led the way for the Eagles with her 11 kills on just 28 attempts, while Junior Emma Olson led the team in assists with 24. The Eagles followed up their takedown of Bridgewater later on that day against Hiram College, which who was a ranked team last season. UMW had a tougher time against Hiram as the Eagles fell in the opening set by a score of 25-17. They would go on to respond by putting up 25 points to their opponents 18. Back and forth action followed as Hiram grabbed the following set before the Eagles tied it up at two apiece by a score of 25-13. UMW grabbed the fifth and final set by a score of 15-9 to grab the sweep for the day. Hendricks once again led the Eagles in kills with 21 kills on 50 attempts, Olson grabbed a team high 46 assists.
The Captain’s Classic continued Saturday, September 3, as the Eagles took on Meredith University at 10 a.m. UMW once again grabbed an early lead as they took the opening set by a score of 25-16. They continued the hot start by grabbing the next two sets with scores of 25-17 and 25-16 for a 3-0 sweep and the victory.
UMW came back later that day eager to complete the tournament sweep with a victory over Susquehanna. They did just that, as the Eagles grabbed the opening two sets with scores of 25-19 and 25-16. Susquehanna snuck back with a set of 25-22, to draw closer at 2-1. The Eagles put it away with a score of 25-15 in the final set and grabbed the 3-1 victory to complete the tournament sweep.
Freshman Leslie Walters led the eagles with 14 kills on 31 attempts in their opening game against Meredith. Hendricks and senior Emma Murphy led the team in the Susquehanna game with 11 kills apiece. Olson led the team in both games with assist totals of 25 and 31.
Olson and Murphy were named to the all-tournament team for their performances.
“I am very proud of how our team played, I believe we set the tone for the rest of the season,” Olson said. Improving to 4-1 on the season has the Eagles in a good position before conference play opens up.
“We want a ring,” Olson said. “As long as we keep our pace and go to the gym with the intensity that we have, we can make our goals that much more obtainable.”
Their performance over the weekend did not go unnoticed on the national stage. For the first time since 1992, the team received votes to be among the top 25 teams in the American Volleyball Coaches Association DIII national poll. The Eagles received three votes, marking the first time the Eagles have received votes since they made it to the NCAA tournament.