The Gustavus women’s volleyball team travelled to Eau Claire, Wisconsin this past weekend for the Sandy Schumacher Memorial Tournament.
The team came out strong on Friday, winning both of their matches in three straight sets.
In the first set against the Linfield Wildcats Gustavus took an early lead and didn’t trail once, pulling away late to take the set 25-17.
The second set saw the two teams in a stalemate at 7-7 until the Gusties found their groove and closed the set on an 18-5 run to take it 25-12.
Gustavus maintained their mojo in set three, never trailing and holding off a late rally to close out the match at 25-21.
Junior Kate Holton finished the match with a team high ten kills while First-years Rhyan Herrmann and Syndey Olson both racked in 7. Senior setter Mitaya Johnson distributed 14 assists, and First-year Kaylyn Johnston also had double digit assists with 12.
In the second match on Friday, the Gusties displayed their fortitude against the Lakeland Muskies with strong play in late game situations. In the first set, Gustavus rallied from a 13-11 deficit and finished on an 11-3 run to take the set 25-20. The second set saw a comfortable Gustavus lead shrink to nil as the Muskies fought back and tied things at 25-all before the Gusties took the set two points later. In the third set the black and gold rallied back after an early 7-1 deficit to tie things at 22. Gustavus then closed the set with clutch play, getting kills on three of the last four points to secure the victory.
Holtan once again led the Gusties with 12 kills and also notched 15 digs. Kaylyn Johnston finished the match with 23 set assists, while Mitaya Johnson had 15.
On Saturday the Gusties faced stiffer competition and ended up dropping both matches 3-0. In the first match against No. 19 ranked Carthage, the Gusties got off to a slow start, falling behind 14-7 and eventually succumbing 25-19.
The next two sets went much the same as Carthage jumped out to early leads and coasted to victory, 25-11 and 25-21. Holtan had eight kills, while Johnston had 15 assists and Johnson chipped in 12 assists.
In the final match of the tournament, the Gusties squared off against the #9 ranked Blugolds of Eau Claire. The first match started off even until a little spurt pushed the Blugolds ahead 13-7. The Gusties fought back to within two but Eau Claire pulled away late to take the first set 25-18. Set two was dominated by the Blugolds, who jumped out to a 10-1 lead that blossomed into a 25-16 victory. Gustavus pushed hard in the third set, riding a 7-1 run to pull within one point of the Blugolds late, but it was not enough and Eau Claire closed the match out at 25-23.
The Gusties emerged from this busy weekend with a record of 6-6.
“Starting the season out with three tournaments where you play four matches back-to-back is long. Everybody is doing it, but it gets long to always be on the road,” Head Coach Rachelle Sherden said.
After a couple of days off, Gustavus hosted Minnesota Morris on Tuesday in the home opener. Playing with the extra motivation and momentum provided by a home crowd and a lively student section, the Gusties took the match in three straight sets. Gustavus played their best all-around match of the season, hitting .398 as a team.
The first two sets saw the Gusties establish nice leads towards the middle of the sets, and solid execution down the stretch turned into 25-14 and 25-17 victories. Set three was the most competitive, with Morris pushing to a 17-16 advantage before Gustavus got hot with seven straight points. The seventh Gustie service ace of the contest ended the match at 25-19.
“I thought that we served really aggressive and made it tough on them because they’re a good offensive team and it got them out of their system,” Sherden said.
“It felt really good to be home tonight and I think the team was ready to play together at home and in front of a great crowd.”
The Gusties are back in action on Friday when they travel to Augsburg.