by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Lady Jackets (8-10, 6-2 G-MAC) outlasted the Walsh Cavaliers (13-4, 7-2 G-MAC) 3-2 in a pivotal G-MAC showdown on Friday night. With the win, Cedarville closed the gap to Malone and Findlay (both 8-1 in G-MAC) in the conference standings.
Cedarville took the match 21-25, 25-15, 25-21, 22-25 and 15-10.
“It was a big game so we knew we had to come out there and serve aggressive and get our defense the ball to win,” senior middle hitter Gabby Olson said.
Olson and junior outside hitter Taylor Wilkerson each put up 16 kills for the Lady Jackets. Freshman middle hitter Lauren Willow added 14 kills.
The Lady Jackets were never able to get into a rhythm in the first set. The Cavaliers jumped out to a quick advantage which gave them the padding they needed to own the first.
Walsh owned the momentum for the entire set, and Cedarville called a timeout with a 13-6 deficit in order to stop Walsh’s run. Walsh scored the next four points after the timeout and seemed to have the set under control.
Late in the set, Cedarville mounted a small comeback. Trailing 22-13, the Lady Jackets went on a 8-2 run. The Lady Jackets cut the lead to as little as three late in the set, but the long battle ended in a Walsh victory. Olson and Willow each contributed four kills during the set.
“We were starting to have some of the same issues we had last Saturday and we decided as a coaching staff to approach the problem differently if it came up today,” Walters said.
Cedarville scored seven of the first eight points in the second set, and trailing 7-1, Walsh called a timeout. The timeout failed to stop the Lady Jackets from continuing to dominate the set, as they scored five of the next six points to lead 12-2.
Walsh mounted a comeback to get back into the game and chopped the Lady Jacket lead to four. A 7-1 run led Cedarville to call its first timeout of the set.
The timeout allowed Walsh to cut the lead to three, but Cedarville pulled ahead quickly after to a 17-10 edge.
The Lady Jackets were able to fend off the Cavaliers in the remainder of the set and went on to win 25-15. Olson led the way again for the Yellow Jackets with four more kills in the set.
Walsh held an early 8-5 lead over the Lady Jackets, but Cedarville used a run to take the lead back, and a Wilkerson kill and extended the Lady Jackets’ lead to 11-8.
Cedarville furthered its lead and looked to hold the momentum to close the set. Down 19-13, the Cavaliers called a timeout.
The Lady Jackets seemed to have the set under wraps, but Walsh fought back to force Cedarville to labor for the victory. Walsh cut the Lady Jackets’ lead to 24-21, causing Cedarville to call a timeout.
The timeout failed to will Walsh to cut the lead anymore, as Cedarville took the next point via a block from Olson and junior outside hitter Faith Ferris.
“We told them in the locker room during intermission that this set was a game changer,” Walters said. “The setters were executing well and the serving team did well with the short serves as well.”
No more than four points separated the two teams before the midway point. The game was tied four times before Cedarville called a timeout with a 12-11 lead.
Walsh led the set for the first time since leading 1-0 after going up 15-14. The Cavaliers expanded their lead and went up 17-15, which motivated Cedarville to call its second timeout of the set.
The Cavaliers slipped by to take the fourth set 25-22. Olson failed to tally a kill in the entire set, but Wilkerson piled seven kills in the set.
Willow had three kills in four points to give Cedarville an 8-6 lead. Wilkerson added two kills to extend Cedarville’s lead to 10-7, giving way to a Walsh timeout.
Cedarville continued to fight off Walsh comebacks, and an exhausting final point ended with a kill by Willow.
“We needed to stay aggressive,” Walters said. “In the fourth sets were drifting off a little bit. They made a purposeful executive of getting everything tighter and that helped.”
The Lady Jackets will play Malone tomorrow for their annual Homecoming game. Malone (13-5, 8-1 G-MAC) was swept by Cedarville in both of their matches last season.
Tim Miller is a sophomore marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, sipping Dunkin Donuts coffee and striving to be the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.