by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Lady Jackets (10-17, 8-8 G-MAC) enjoyed a win over the Ohio Dominican Panthers on Friday night, 3-0. The Lady Jackets hadn’t played at home in over two weeks, and will now enjoy three more matches at home to close out the regular season.
Cedarville won 25-19, 25-17, and 25-18, and trailed just once throughout the three sets. Consistency was key for the Lady Jackets, which is something head coach Greg Smith said he emphasized this week during practice.
“It’s been a focal point,” Smith said. “To see the timing, the presses, it was a lot better.”
Freshman outside hitter Sara Beste smashed a team-high 13 kills for the Lady Jackets and sophomore middle hitter Lauren Willow added 10.
Sophomore setter Sierra Schuitema managed 37 assists and seven digs. Sophomore libero Autumn Foust led the team in digs with 13.
Brooke Blattner’s punishing kill to start the match seemed to deflate ODU from the start, and after Cedarville took two more points, the Lady Jackets looked primed to get out of Callan with an easy sweep.
However, the Panthers roared back for three straight points to tie it, which gave them life early.
Cedarville ran away, taking four of the next five points. Down 8-4, ODU called a timeout.
The timeout only delayed the Lady Jackets’ onslaught, as they poured on five points in a row after the short intermission.
While Cedarville continued to control the set, the Panthers snuck back into the match. After taking six of eight points, Cedarville called a timeout leading 23-17.
The Lady Jackets kept their lead and won the first set, 25-19. While Cedarville was convincingly better at times, the failure to close out ODU in the set gave the Panthers momentum heading into the second.
Blatter buried four kills while Beste also pounded four kills. Schuitema gave away 10 assists in the first set.
Cedarville was the first to pull away in the second set and owned an 11-6 lead after winning five of six points. However, the Panthers caught fire for four of five points to pull within two at 13-11.
While ODU kept pace with Cedarville, the Panthers had to call a timeout down 19-15 as Cedarville seemed a point away from blowing the match wide open.
Cedarville was more impressive to close out the second, winning 25-17. Willow had five kills and Schuitema reached 14 assists in the set.
The third set was hotly contested, but yet again the Lady Jackets were the first to take a notable lead. After winning six of seven points, Cedarville led 12-7, leading ODU to burn its first timeout.
The Lady Jackets maintained control after the timeout and extended their lead to 18-12. The lead felt unsurmountable for the Panthers.
ODU was competitive but didn’t come close to mounting a threatening comeback. Cedarville easily took the final set, capped off by a powerful kill by Beste.
Beste has seen increased playing time and touched the starting lineup, and said the team’s mindset tonight was pivotal in picking up the victory.
“I think collectively as a team we were mentally focused tonight,” Beste said. “We just played with joy.”
The Lady Jackets continue their four-game homestand tomorrow against Alderson Broaddus, who sits at 8-19 (2-14 G-MAC). It will be the only regular season matchup of 2018 for the two teams.
Tim Miller is a junior marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, knowing too much about supplemental insurance, and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.