by Tim Miller
Cedarville head coach Greg Smith said after last night’s ugly loss to Kentucky Wesleyan, the Lady Jackets better come ready to play on Saturday. While it was in the third set before the Lady Jackets woke up, they knocked off Trevecca in five sets thanks to a backward sweep.
Cedarville (15-9, 7-3 G-MAC) dropped the first two sets 25-18 and 25-14 before winning the final three 25-20, 25-13, and 15-11.
“We knew coming back today that we needed to take care of business,” Emily Ward said. “We really just worked hard to play with freedom, swinging away at the ball, and be more aggressive with our serves.”
Junior outside hitter Liene Miller went off for 24 kills (two shy of her season-high) and 13 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Sara Beste had six kills and eight digs and junior setter Sierra Schuitema totaled 42 assists. Sophomore libero Ward led the team in digs with 19.
Junior middle hitter Lauren Willow missed her third straight game with a grade-two sprained ankle. Smith said he hopes to have her back for next weekend, but “it depends on how she progresses.”
“I think the biggest thing is you take Lauren out of the equation and you start pressing too much and try to figure out who’s gonna score,” Smith said.
Cedarville gave itself an early edge, taking a 7-4 lead. The Lady Jackets continued to extend their lead through a display of athleticism on the defensive end, keeping themselves alive through diving for digs and showing lots of range to track down the ball.
Cedarville began beating itself, however, and Trevecca came back to take a 14-13 lead. The Lady Jackets suffered service and attack errors, as they lost the lead with no credit going to the Trojans.
The Trojans took a 17-14 lead after a Cedarville attack error, and the Lady Jackets called a timeout. After Cedarville suffered two more errors out of the timeout, Smith called another quick timeout.
The Lady Jackets continued to beat themselves as the set closed, and Trevecca took the first set 25-18. Miller had five kills, but the team totaled 12 attack errors and one service error.
While both teams kept it tight to start the second set, Cedarville decimated itself with error after error. The Trojans rarely had to attack, as Cedarville handed points over to Trevecca. Battling an 11-7 deficit, Cedarville called its first timeout.
Smith again was not hesitant to take a timeout right after taking his first. Down 14-7, Cedarville took its second timeout.
The Lady Jackets failed to tighten up the set and lost 25-14. Smith utilized different lineups in the set, searching desperately for any combination that would give them success, but nothing worked for Cedarville. The Lady Jackets suffered 11 attack errors while the Trojans committed just one. Through two sets, Cedarville converted a meager -.053% of its attack attempts.
“We were trying to find that chemistry,” Smith said of the first two poorly played sets.
Cedarville leaped to a 7-5 lead in the third, and the Lady Jackets were much more vocal to start. Callan began to get louder as the home fans became more engaged after senior middle hitter Brooke Blattner blocked a ball back to the hardwood to put Cedarville up 13-8.
Cedarville operated with cohesion for the first time all day, leading to its first set won of the weekend. The Lady Jackets continued to stretch their lead, and facing a 19-13 hill to climb, Trevecca called a timeout.
Trevecca used the timeout to make some adjustments, and the Trojans found themselves inching back into the set, down 22-18. Cedarville used a timeout to tie up any loose ends in order to keep control of the set. The Lady Jackets kept their advantage and took the set 25-20.
Cedarville much improved their attack percentage in the third, converted on 14 of their 42 attempts. The Lady Jackets only suffered four attack errors in the set, which was by far their best mark of the day.
“We were focusing on finding the court,” Ward said. “In the first two sets, we were too complacent with finding the same spots on the floor, and that made our room for error really tiny. I had to do a better job of calling out and finding better spots for the hitters.”
Cedarville continued its dominance to open the fourth, owning an 8-5 margin early. Trevecca responded with a quick timeout as the Lady Jackets clearly were pulling momentum in their favor.
The timeout failed miserably to help the Trojans, as Cedarville won the next four points. With a 12-5 lead, Callan was the loudest it had been during the match, and Trevecca burned another timeout.
Miller sent a forceful kill into the stomach of a Trojans player, giving the Lady Jackets a lead of 16-6. The Cedarville bench remained loud, while Trevecca looked timid.
Cedarville took an early 4-2 lead to open the deciding set, but the Trojans scored two straight to tie it. The Lady Jackets pulled away after scoring three points in a row to take command. Trailing 7-4, Trevecca called a timeout.
The Lady Jackets’ athleticism again shone through, as a long volley was won by Cedarville after multiple diving plays by the Lady Jackets allowed them to eventually take the point.
Trevecca was able to get itself back into the set, and Cedarville called a timeout up just 10-9 because of it. Cedarville scored four consecutive points to fend off Trevecca, ultimately leading to winning the set and the match.
“We found a lineup today that worked well for us,” Smith said. “They didn’t give up and they kept fighting. The last three sets were a lot different, and it just tells you they didn’t stop believing.”
The Lady Jackets rest up before preparing for their final weekend run of the regular season on Friday and Saturday. They’ll take on Malone on Friday at home before finishing up against Walsh on Saturday for Senior Day.
Tim Miller is a senior marketing major, editor-in-chief and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, knowing too much about health insurance, and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.