by Joshua Stevens
Cedarville’s grit and determination pushed them to upset Findlay in dramatic fashion on Saturday. The Lady Jackets (6-12, 5-6 GMAC) swept the visiting Oilers with none of the sets decided by more than three points. The Jackets won the hard-fought sets 25-22, 26-24 and 25-23.
Senior outside hitter Taylor Wilkerson led the way for the Lady Jackets, finishing with 15 kills and 10 digs. Freshman Sarah Beste added seven kills and 15 digs, and sophomore Lauren Willow contributed eight kills.
The team looked excited and aggressive from the get-go, something that was absent when they were swept by Hillsdale on Friday night.
“Yesterday we struggled to be engaged and mentally focused,” head coach Greg Smith said. “For us to rebound and come back the way we did, our mental toughness was a lot better.”
The Lady Jackets established the aggressive tone in the first set, as Wilkerson lit it up with seven kills and five digs. Beste added four kills and five digs.
“The word we were thinking of coming into this game was ‘focus,’” said Wilkerson. “Pregame, warmups, during the game, the small details, we wanted to stay focused.”
The Jackets kept the lead through much of the first set, but Findlay didn’t go away. They cut the lead to 24-21, forcing Cedarville to call timeout. A service error by Findlay gave the Lady Jackets the win in the first set. The Oilers would continue to struggle with errors throughout the match, finishing with 20.
The sets got increasingly more competitive. Cedarville jumped to an early lead in the second, but Findlay refused to go away. After a service ace cut the Jackets’ lead to one, back-to-back kills by junior Brooke Blattner and sophomore Lauren Willow pumped up the crowd and forced Findlay to call timeout.
The Jackets held a 15-11 lead as Findlay again came roaring back. The Oilers took a 21-20 lead, and the teams began trading blows. With the set tied at 24, another kill by Wilkerson and another service error by Findlay gave the Jackets the second set win.
“Findlay’s a very good team,” Smith said. “Even when they made a push, we stayed consistent and calm.”
Both teams picked up the intensity in the third set. After again jumping out to an early lead, Cedarville found themselves behind 10-8. However, errors continued to plague the Oilers. Another service ace by Findlay tied the game at 21, giving the Lady Jackets life. With the game tied at 23, two more service errors by Findlay sealed the victory for Cedarville.
The Lady Jackets played with discipline, with only 12 errors on the afternoon. The Oilers sloppy play at the end of each set gave the Lady Jackets a huge win against a G-MAC opponent. They now own a 5-5 record in the conference, and look to continue to improve. They get two straight away games in the conference next week, as they face Lake Eerie on Friday and Ursuline on Saturday.
“I’m excited for the team. We’ll enjoy the win for the weekend,” Smith said. “But come Monday, we gotta get back to work.”