The Cedarville volleyball team opened their home slate of matches with a 4-set victory over the Ohio Dominican University Panthers on Tuesday night in front of a raucous crowd full of students in the Callan Athletic Center. The Jackets had opened the season at a mark of 2-2 after playing four matches in two days at an invitational in Evansville, Ind.
The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set and would never trail in the set, dominating to the score of 25-18.
The visiting Panthers countered in the second set by taking a quick 7-1 lead of their own, forcing Coach Doug Walters to take a timeout to regroup. The Jackets could not make a full recovery, however, never coming within three points of ODU and falling by a final of 25-20.
“The main key for us (tonight) was just staying aggressive,” Coach Walters said. “The second set we started getting real passive. We were tipping and dumping balls a little bit too much instead of staying aggressive and they were able to turn those over into points. So, we talked a lot during the intermission about just getting back to going hard.”
After the intermission, the Jackets found themselves trailing at the outset of the third. The Jackets rattled off four straight points to tie the set at 13. The highly contested set would have six more ties and four lead changes. The students rose from their seats to a resounding roar as the Jackets finished the set with four straight points to turn a 23-21 deficit into a 25-23 victory.
“We love playing at home. We get great crowds,” Coach Walters said. “That third set, I’ve never heard the crowd as loud as that for a volleyball match here. That was a key moment and having the crowd behind us helps give us that energy to push through.”
Tonight’s game had 1,083 in attendance, setting the school record for a volleyball game, Walters said. The crowd continued to provide energy as the Jackets and Panthers battled closely in the fourth set, a game that saw 13 ties and six lead changes. After being tied at 24, the Jackets scored twice to win the set 26-24 and the match by a final of three sets to one.
Senior Amanda Bell led the Jackets with 13 kills on the night, and Freshman Krissy Pratt made her home debut by tallying 10 kills, tying the 10 kills of Senior Hannah Wagner. Sophomore Angela Becker led the Jackets with 25 digs, followed by Bell with 18. Senior Maddie Ledbetter led the Jackets with 27 assists.
This weekend the Jackets will travel to California University of Pennsylvania to compete in four matches over the span of two days. Next week, they host matches on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the Callan Athletic Center.
Paul McMichael is a junior preseminary Bible major and a sports reporter for Cedars.