Women’s Volleyball will likely fall in national polls, as unranked Christopher Newport snapped their five-win streak after a long, five-set fall Saturday night.
The volleyball squadron started the weekend ranked third in the country. They now travel back from Huntingdon, Pa. and the ASICS Invitational with a single tally in the loss margin thanks to Christopher Newport. Earlier in the weekend, the ladies persevered against Carnegie Mellon and Juniata.
The Tigers are no stranger to being near the top of the polls. They went 20-straight wins a year ago to advance to number one in the country and keeping the mark for six consecutive weeks. In fact, Wittenberg has ranked in the top-five nine times in the last 11 seasons.
Despite four aces in the Christopher Newport game, the Captains counter-attacked with 13 total blocks to take down the Tigers 3-2. Aubrey Cox, ‘20, Kennedy Schmidt, ‘19 and Taylor Brown, ‘19 collectively fought through the attack, combining for 39 of the teams 61 kills.
The duel went back and forth before the opposition struck down the Tigers. Bouncing back after dropping the first set, Wittenberg hung on until the bitter end by keeping within seven points with each final set score.
The Tigers were unable to draw first blood against the Captains in any of the sets. Frequently, the ladies dropped the first three points in each set.
Wittenberg also found themselves with the lead several times but lacked enough composure to keep the trend going. Late in the first set, the Tigers held a 21-16 break which unfortunately did not last long. After six opposing points and two timeouts, they would later to lose the set, 23-25.
The Tigers squeaked by in the second set, 25-22, after almost blowing a 23-19 build-up. The leap was followed by a stumble, as the red and white were unable to claim a lead through the entire third set. The ladies were behind until partway through the fourth when they overcame a three-point deficit to later win 25-18.
The Tigers held on for dear life, attempting to regain control in the two-and-a-half-hour match-up. Christopher Newport broke the small Tiger lead early in the set to win 15-13.
The red and white opened the weekend with a quick, 3-0 win over Carnegie Mellon. Wittenberg overpowered the Tartans in the attack, rallying a .376 hitting percentage against the opposing team’s .137 low mark.
Strength and endurance carried the Tigers through the following match-up, taking down Juniata 3-2. Haley Horner, ‘21, led the squad with 12 kills and six blocks through the bout with the Eagles. Meanwhile, the long match proved impressive for Karen Wildemann, ‘19, who tallied the first triple double of the season with 10 kills, 15 digs and 31 assists.
Through the weekend, Wildemann continued to tally games with 30- plus assists on the floor. Number-21 recorded 33, 31 and 43 respectively. She now sits at 202 assists about a quarter of the way through the season.
At the end of week two, four Tigers have recorded at least 50 kills. Topping the attacking crew with a total of 57, Schmidt powered the ball past Christopher Newport 15 times for points.
Three Tigers now find themselves in the double digits where blocks are concerned. Horner, Cox and Schmidt successfully batted down 15, 14 and 13 balls respectively.
The Tigers continue to take on nationally-sound competition, as Wittenberg will play host to the Fall Classic. They will look forward to matches against Ithaca on Friday as well as Thomas More and Ohio Northern on Saturday.
Ithaca, a national top-ten team, has not met Wittenberg on the court since 2003, which resulted in a Tiger win in Pam Evans Smith. Thomas More, currently undefeated, fell last season in a quick 3-0 sweep, while the Tigers last met Ohio Northern in November 2017 at Otterbein, winning to begin their national tournament run.