by Grace Mowery
The Cedarville Lady Jackets came into the Friday night home game against Ashland University off a sweep over Kentucky Wesleyan last weekend and were looking to continue their strong showing against the division-leading Eagles and add to their 3-1 record at home. The Jackets are now 9-12 on the season and 6-8 in the G-MAC. The postseason is looking less certain for Cedarville after the loss.
However, the Eagles’ relentless offensive pressure overcame Cedarville’s defense led by senior Liene Miller’s team-leading 14 kills and five blocks to take the match in four sets.
The first set began with tight scoring until Ashland pulled ahead 12-9. Errors and miscommunication plagued the Cedarville defense early. Ashland stretched the lead to 20-13 and stymied the Jackets’ attempt to tie the game. The Jackets couldn’t generate enough offensive pressure to force the Eagles out of their rhythm. They surrendered the first set to Ashland 25-17.
Cedarville began the second set with an early 4-2 lead in the opening minutes. Their lead was short-lived as Ashland soon tied the game 7-7. Junior Riley Hensley and senior Lauren Willow combined for a block to pull Cedarville ahead 9-7, igniting the team and the crowd.
Ashland prevented Cedarville from building on that spark and took a 14-10 lead. After a timeout, the Jackets showed better communication, and they pulled ahead of Ashland 15-14.
The Eagles kept pace with Cedarville and stunted their momentum, going on to win the set 25-21.
Faced with elimination, the Jackets put together a strong third set, emphasized by Miller’s kill which led to a 14-11 lead. As they had all night, Ashland cut into the lead and took advantage of defensive miscues to tie the game at 14.
A time out sparked Cedarville and they led for the rest of the set. Ashland tied the set at 24, but Miller’s kill sealed the Jackets’ win.
The Eagles claimed the lead early in the fourth set and didn’t let it go, beating the Jackets 25-14.
Junior libero Mallory Delamarter acknowledged the differences between the third set and the rest of the game.
“Everyone was super confident we were going to win,” said Delamarter. “There was no doubt we were gonna fight to the end. In set three, we gave it all out, and I think we played really well and finished really well.”
However, she noted that the team couldn’t match that energy and confidence in the other three.
Head coach Greg Smith faulted the mental side of the game for the Jackets’ losses, saying, “At the same time, we’ve been having some really good practices, and hopefully it’s gonna start connecting a little bit more with us in the matches. We did some really positive things tonight, but we just didn’t do enough against a really good team.”
Cedarville’s loss drops them to 6-8 in the conference, and they remain in fourth place in the south division of the G-MAC.
The Jackets look to redeem themselves on Saturday, Nov. 6 against Tiffin and provide a strong showing to stave off tournament elimination. The senior day match begins at 3 pm.