by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Lady Jackets didn’t practice yesterday, but it didn’t seem to phase them as they rolled over Urbana in a non-conference affair, sweeping the Knights with relative ease.
The Lady Jackets (13-7, 6-1 G-MAC) took care of the Knights with identical scores of 25-18, 25-18 and 25-18.
“It was a really good match,” head coach Greg Smith said. “Urbana is really good. As we continue to play along in the season, we’re getting better at playing controlled. Mentally, we’re just playing a different game than we were in the beginning of the season.”
Junior outside hitter Liene Miller popped off for 15 kills in the match, giving her 4.12 kills per set this season, a mark good for second in the G-MAC. She also added 10 digs.
Sophomore outside hitter Sara Beste enjoyed more regular playing time, finishing with 12 kills and 13 digs. Junior middle hitter Lauren Willow matched Beste with 12 kills. Junior setter Sierra Scheuitema amassed 44 assists to aid the Lady Jackets.
The two teams weren’t separated by more than a point in the first set until Cedarville took an 11-9 lead. Urbana wouldn’t let Cedarville run away with the set, and stormed back by scoring four of the next five points to take a 13-12 lead. The Lady Jackets called a timeout at that point as Urbana sought to take momentum to set the tone for the match.
The gap again closed and the two team’s had razor-thin swings of luck. Cedarville took four points in a row and extended its lead to four multiple times in the latter end of the set in order to pull away to close the first set. The Lady Jackets eventually won the first set 25-18, taking seven of the final eight points of the set.
Both Miller and Willow had five kills in the set. Schuitema piled up 14 assists and three digs.
Cedarville exploded to a 6-1 advantage to open the second set, but Urbana closed the difference to 6-4 and got back into the set from there. As each team battled back and forth, Cedarville’s front line began to flex its muscles. After putting up 16 kills in the first set, the Lady Jackets began to distance themselves from the Knights, as Miller and Willow continued to send balls to the floor in the second.
Cedarville’s front line performance allowed them to slowly but surely increase its lead, owning a 19-14 mark later in the second. Even when Urbana’s front row blocked a spike by the Lady Jackets, Cedarville would respond with digs that allowed them to stay in system. They’d go on to match the first set’s score, winning the second 25-18.
“They did a nice job,” Smith said of the Lady Jackets’ front row. “Sierra did a nice job of moving the hitters around and I think our hitters are getting more confident of where to hit to.”
Beste came alive for Cedarville in the second, doubling her kill total from four to eight from the first set to the second. Schuitema pushed her assists total to 30, and Willow reached double digits in kills for the match with 11 after two sets.
Cedarville seemed to will control of the game to itself, leading to a relatively stress-free third set. Smith subbed in more reserves in the final period, while starters still enjoyed plenty of playing time.
When Urbana came within one at 14-13, Miller and senior middle hitter Blattner sent a kill attempt by Urbana directly back to their feet, blocking the Knights’ chances of tying the set. Blattner followed up with another block on the next point, and Schuitema dialed up a service ace to put the Lady Jackets back up comfortably, 17-13. The Knights called a timeout with the match waning.
Urbana was never able to swing the set to its favor, and Cedarville went on to win the third, believe it or not, 25-18.
The Lady Jackets will play the remainder of their six matches against G-MAC foes, the next coming at Tiffin (11-11, 5-1 G-MAC) on Friday. The game against the Dragons will be crucial in conference positioning, as the two squads are tied for third in the G-MAC.
“Tiffin is a very good team,” Smith said. “We’re gonna have our hands full for sure. It’s a very even team and they have great players. It’s going to be a big challenge.”
Tim Miller is a senior Marketing major and serves as Editor-in-Chief and Sports Editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, knowing too much about health insurance, and striving to be the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.