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Grenadier Volleyball Drops First Match of Season

After an undefeated start to the season, IU Southeast volleyball dropped their first match of the season to defending national champions Lindsey Wilson College

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Tamar Kelly
The Grenadier volleyball team celebrates after taking the third set against the defending national champions from Lindsey Wilson College. The Grenadiers would go on to lose the match 3-1. Photo by Tamar Kelly.

IU Southeast hosted the defending national champions and No. 4 ranked Blue Raiders from Lindsey Wilson College in the Grenadiers’ toughest match of the young 2018 season.

On Tuesday, Sept. 4, the Grenadiers (7-1) entered the match as unbeatens and off to the team’s best start of Eric Brian’s six-year tenure. The unbeaten streak came to an end, however, as the Blue Raiders (9-2) beat the Grenadiers in four sets — 22-25, 10-25, 25-22, 25-16.

The hype for the game began to build as the Grenadiers win streak continued to climb with each game, but the players and coaches did not let it phase them.

“One of the things we talked about in the locker room was the team that won a national championship last year, was not the team that we saw tonight because they have so many new parts and so many young players in there,” Brian, head volleyball coach, said. “Even though that’s the way the game was advertised, we knew the team that we were playing was much more vulnerable than an undefeated national championship team [from last season].”

The Grenadiers proved they belonged in the game early with a back and forth first set, which they led 14-13 before the Blue Raiders used an 8-1 run to take a 21-15 lead. They used a five-point run to pull within one but never regained the lead in the set.

I think [the team] knew the second set was a fluke. [The team] did a really good job of keeping their heads down and going to work and doing what they know they can do, and not letting [the second set] affect the rest of the match.”

— Eric Brian, head volleyball coach

The second set was one filled with errors by the Grenadiers. After starting the set even and all squared up at 3-3, the Blue Raiders used their size and defense to rout the Grenadiers and set on a 22-7 run.

“We knew the second set was pretty much all of our errors,” Monica Loftus, senior outside hitter, said. “They didn’t do anything phenomenal, we just could not serve-receive and we were making silly mistakes. After that, I went to the huddle and just said ‘that was not good, that was not us, we know how to play way better than that.’”

The Grenadiers went on the bounce back and played much better in the third set. In another back and forth set — nine ties and four lead changes — the Grenadiers battled out their first set victory of the night, capped off by a kill from junior outside hitter Alyssa Cosgrove.

The fourth set started out as another seesaw battle, but the size and defense of the Blue Raiders proved to be too much for the Grenadiers as they dropped the set 25-16, and the match along with it.

The Blue Raiders defense was frustrating for the Grenadiers all night, as it seemed every certain-kill was met by a dig from the Blue Raiders’ back line. Elly Burke led the Blue Raiders with 21 digs, followed closely by Klara Mikelova with 19.

“[The defense] was super frustrating,” Loftus said. “I felt like I had a lot of good hits but they kept getting them up, but that’s just part of the game.”

Brian said there was a lot of good to take away from the Grenadiers first loss of the season, but also some areas where the team still needs some work.

“I’m pleased with a lot of the things we did tonight, in terms of the way that we hit back and the way that we responded after the second set,” he said. “Our serving has typically been more effective than it was tonight, so that’s something we’re going to have to work on.”

For Loftus and the team, their biggest takeaway was being able to compete and stand toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the country.

“I think [this match] shows that we can compete with anybody because they’re the No. 4 team in the nation, and we played them really well,” Loftus said.

Cosgrove led the Grenadiers with 11 kills, followed by Loftus who had 10. The defense was led by Kenna Burman, sophomore defensive specialist, with 21 digs. Hannah Sipe, sophomore setter, led the team with 25 assists.

The Grenadiers will travel to Earlham college on Friday, Sept. 7, for a weekend tournament and the next home match will be against Oakland City on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m.

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