by Abigail Hintz
For a while, it didn’t feel Cedarville volleyball was ever going to get their season rolling after they were forced to move then drop out of their first home tournament due to COVID-19 protocols. But after a long weekend away to start things out the Lady Jackets opened G-MAC play in their home opener on Friday night to a packed house in Callan with over 1,050 in attendance and with a big 3-0 win over the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers. The Jackets took each set by scores of 25-16, 25-13, 25-18.
The Jackets are now 2-3 on the season.
Head coach Greg Smith and his team were pumped by the big crowd.
“It was a blast,” Smith said. “It was a fun, fun atmosphere.”
Cedarville was led by senior outside Liene Miller with 12 kills on 30 total attempts with just four errors. Sophomore outside Riley Hensley and graduate middle Lauren Willow both contributed eight kills on the night. Willow now has 1,003 career kills with the Jackets, getting her 1,000th Friday night.
“I was just short of it in high school,” Willow said. “And so getting it in college is just super sweet. To even get it in my fifth year that wasn’t supposed to happen is just a gift of God’s grace. This whole season is.”
Kentucky Wesleyan couldn’t combat the energy behind Cedarville and the Jackets went on an early 7-3 run driven by some big blocks and jousts at the net. Some unforced errors let the Panthers back into it at 7-6. Cedarville adjusted quickly and went on a five-point run to go up 12-6.
Cedarville was completely in control for the rest of the first set, rounding it out at 25-16. Senior outside Liene Miller was the leader on the stat sheet with five kills but the Jackets were playing very cohesively overall. Senior libero Emily Ward nearly served the Jackets out with nine total serves.
The Panthers didn’t make it easy for the Jackets early in the second set, tying it at 7 despite Cedarville taking an early lead. The Jackets quickly settled in after feeling the threat and went on a big run to go up 14-8.
Cedarville was playing in a cool and composed way. They had limited unforced errors and were controlling the ball from start to finish when it was on their side of the net. They took set two with ease 25-13. Miller upped her total to nine kills on the night while Willow was at five. One of which was her 1,000th career kill at Cedarville.
Kentucky Wesleyan came out swinging again in the third set and forced a Cedarville timeout after going up 5-1. The Jackets seemed to just be unsettled and were making errors they hadn’t been earlier in the match. Smith seemed to say the right thing as the Jackets went on a four-point run coming out of the timeout to tie it up.
The Panthers stayed in it for most of the set until the Jackets pulled away late with a final score of 25-18.
Head coach Greg Smith was pleased with his team’s performance overall and felt like everyone contributed.
“The first two sets were really clean, I was very pleased with that,” Smith said. “The third set I felt like Kentucky Wesleyan stepped up their game but we settled in and put away that third set.”
“Coming in tonight we were just going to focus in on us and do what we know how to do,” Willow said.
Cedarville now faces its toughest stretch of the season as they head on the road for ten straight games before they are back home on Oct. 22. The team turns their attention now to Tiffin on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Abigail Hintz is a senior Journalism major and the Editor-in-chief and Sports Editor for Cedars. She loves reading, playing Spikeball with her friends and watching soccer 24/7.