WC volleyball splits pair on first day of Rhodes Classic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Wilmington College volleyball team split a pair of matches on day one of the Rhodes College Classic, defeating Huntington College (Ala.) 25-16, 25-19, 27-25 and falling to Westminster College (Mo.) in a five-set thriller 19-25, 25-17, 25-21, 24-26, 17-15 in the nightcap.

“I’m really proud of the growth the program as a whole has embraced over the past year,” head coach Sophie Windover said. “We are a team ready to compete and we represent our college with pride. The team genuinely loves each other and wants success to whoever is on the court.”

In the match with the Hawks, service runs from Blake O’Brien, Andie Dolven and Sofia Thomas in the middle portions of the first set capped by a kill from Trinity VanDusen put the Fightin’ Quakers up 21-12, a lead WC would not relinquish. Huntington found itself trailing by just two, 10-8, in the early stages until a Sydney Geibel kill sent O’Brien to the service line. The junior from St. Louis served six straight times to build a 16-8 advantage. Later in the match, a kill from Thomas sent her to the service line at 21-18. The Boone County High School grad served two aces in the ensuing three points to give the Quakers a 2-0 lead.

In set three, it was Huntington’s turn to use a service run to take a lead 21-16. A kill from Joy Bebe a few points later got the Quakers within 23-20, but side outs gave Huntington three set points. Wilmington saved all of them, and while tied at 25-25 kills from Thomas and Lili Green gave the Quakers the sweep.

In the match with the Blue Jays, Wilmington took set one but lost the next two for a 2-1 deficit. The fourth set went Wilmington’s way as a kill from Bailey Pohlman followed by a setting error put the Quakers ahead 14-8. Westminster answered, however, and in thunderous fashion took a 24-19 lead. Just like in set three of match No. 1, Wilmington was up to the challenge. A service error got things started, and sent Thomas to the service line at 24-20. Three Blue Jay attack errors along with a kill from Victoria Long tied the set, and consecutive put downs from Dolven forced a decisive set five.

The decisive and final set was a back-and-forth affair the entire way. Neither team led by more than two points until a Bebe kill at 10-8 put WC up three. The Quakers would hold that lead and earn two match points at 14-12 and a third at 15-14, but couldn’t stay in system when it mattered most as consecutive Westminster kills followed by a service ace ended the match.

“We fought hard,” commented Windover. “I’ve not seen the poise and focus in this group before this weekend, and I’m looking forward to seeing them compete the rest of the fall.”

Wilmington will conclude the Rhodes College Classic with matches against the host Lynx and LeTourneau University (Texas) Saturday.