Statesmen Return to Action, Win Three in a Row

Elgin, Ill./Deerfield, Ill.–The William Penn women’s volleyball team looked to begin their 2021 abbreviated season with a bang as they traveled to Illinois for three matches Friday and Saturday.

The Statesmen picked up right where they left off after not playing since November 6, defeating the Trinity International in straight sets of 25-21, 25-19, and 26-24, then finishing the day with another sweep of Judson in sets of 25-17, 25-15, 25-22. They looked to be on the verge of a trifecta of sweeps for the evening, but settled for a five set victory over the Cumberland Phoenix, 25-20, 25-15, 23-25, 22-25, 15-8.

WPU 3, TIU 0

This matchup featured the anticipated return of Corrin Lepper (Jr., Jefferson City, Mo., Exercise Science), who led the team in kills last season, but had missed the previous nine games due to injury. Even with Lepper back in the lineup, the offense stalled in the first set, and the ladies trailed by as much as an 8-16 deficit in their first set of the new year. However, a strong defensive effort and a mistake free offensive attack led the comeback in the first set as the Statesmen took it by a score of 25-21.

The second set proved to be much more in William Penn’s favor, as the navy and gold captured an early 4-3 lead that they never relinquished, finishing the second set with a 25-19 victory. Once again, the Trojan’s errors came back to haunt them, as nine attacking errors in the second set were ultimately their undoing. The Statesmen, on the other hand, played a remarkably efficient frame, finishing with 13 kills to only two errors as a team, including five from Lepper, and two each from Kianna Childers (Sr., Copperas Cove, Texas, Psychology), Asarar Gony (Sr., Omaha, Neb., ), Alicia Jaquez (Sr., Farmington, N.M., Biology), and Alyssa Young (So., Winter Springs, Fla., Biology).

After opening up an early 6-3 lead to begin what would turn out to be the final set, the Statesmen found themselves on the wrong side of a 7-1 run of points to put them in a 10-8 hole. After trading points back and forth and coming to a standstill at 15, William Penn retook the lead once again and looked to put the Trojans away, but the Trojans continued to battle and took a 24-23 lead, but the ladies battled back one final time and swiped away the win, 26-24.

Lepper showed no signs of rust in her return to action. She killed home seven of her 13 tries for the match and committed only one error, good for a hitting percentage of .462. She tied for the team lead in kills in a match where Peyton Foster (Jr., Graham, Wash., Business Management) matched her line of seven kills and one error, albeit in 18 attempts. Gony contributed a mistake free six kills, while Childers and Jaquez finished with five each.

The Statesmen as a team hit a strong .236 for the match, limiting their opposition to a measly .069 mark. The Trojans committed 25 attacking errors on the match, and the Statesmen were credited with 10 total blocks, with Gony and Young receiving credit on five each.

Cameryn Campbell (Sr., Jefferson City, Mo., Elementary Education) and Rebekah Eaves (Sr., Farmington, N.M., Elementary Education ) put the back row on lock as the only Statesmen with double digit digs. Eaves totaled 13 digs while Campbell earned 11 of her own.

Bria Sandifer (Fr., Oakdale, Minn.) made her varsity debut in the contest as she split setting duties with Annalise Whitcomb (Sr., Humboldt, Kan., General Accounting ) and did an admirable job doing so, leading the team with 14 assists. Whitcomb finished just a tick behind her with 13.

WPU 3 JU 0

After a resounding victory in their first match back, the ladies never let off the gas pedal in their second match on Friday, finishing their evening with a second consecutive sweep.

Judson took the opening point of the match, but the Statesmen roared back with eight of the next nine points to take a commanding 8-2 lead. The Eagles attempted to bring it back and made it as close as 16-11, but that was as close as they would come for the rest of the set as the navy and gold took the opening frame 25-17. Neither team hit particularly well in the set, but William Penn was able to outhit their hosts .120-.118 in the opening set.

The second set was more of the same from the first. After trading blows to a 3-3 tie, the Statesmen took the next five points to blow the set open, extending their lead to as much as 22-12 and then winning by that same 10 point margin, 25-15. The hitting percentages tailed off for each team, but the navy and gold were still able to put up a more efficient attacking output than the Eagles, .087-.071.

The third set was much more competitive, with 12 different ties throughout the duration. A kill from Gony finally put the Statesmen up for good at 19-18, and they would earn their second sweep of the day with a third set win of 25-22. The ladies were able to put together their best hitting output of the day, out hitting their opponents .192-.121 in the conclusion.

Jaquez led the attack in the second match with eight kills as she was also able to compile a .467 hitting percentage. Foster and Gony trailed her with four each.

Campbell led the defense with nine digs, while Foster and Whitcomb supported her with six.

Whitcomb acted as the primary setter in the match with 10 assists, while Sandifer tallied eight and Campbell added five.

WPU 3 CU 2

The Statesmen seemed well on their way to a third consecutive sweep to open up the new year. After falling to an early 1-4 hole, the ladies battled back to take a 6-4 lead that they would never give up. Although only hitting .097 for the set, the navy and gold held the Phoenix to a miniscule .037 mark.

William Penn never trailed in the second set, displaying the dominance that had netted them their two consecutive sweeps on Friday. They took the lead at 3-2 and only bolstered it from there, finishing with a resounding 25-15 victory as they won their eighth set in a row. The team more than doubled their attacking efficiency, finishing at a .250 clip while diminishing the nominal visitors to a .026 rate.

After jumping out to a 19-13 lead in the third set, it looked as if the Statesmen were well on their way to a third consecutive sweep. However, at 21-15, the Phoenix put together a monster rally for eight consecutive points, pulling off the huge comeback to win 25-23 and force a fourth set. The fourth set was a near carbon copy of the previous in terms of score, but the gameflow was anything but that as Cumberland led the majority of the way, with neither team really able to break it open as the Phoenix would force a fifth and final set with a 25-22 win.

The fifth set to 15 was closely contested from the get go, but after taking a 5-4 lead, William Penn was able to go into cruise control the rest of the way home, finishing with a match winning victory of 15-8. While the Statesmen were able to put six of their 12 attacks away for points free of error, they also benefited from seven errors for the Phoenix, as compared to only four kills in the finale.

Foster and Childers led the way offensively in the match with 11 kills each, while Gony led the team with a hitting percentage of .385 after putting together five mistake-free kills. Jaquez trailed the two top performers with eight, while Young was able to strike home seven.

The defensive effort was led by Campbell, who put together a 20 dig showing. Foster joined her in double digits with 10.

Whitcomb and Sandifer ran as the setting tandem once again, with Whitcomb taking primary duties. Whitcomb finished with 26 assists, while Sandifer totaled 14. The pair also had three service aces apiece in the contest.

“I was really happy with our overall effort and performance this weekend. I felt like we were tested and challenged constantly, but the girls continuously rose to the occasion,” said Head Coach Aleesha Cleaver. “It was awesome to see numerous players step up in big moments. As we near the conference tournament, this is the development we want to keep seeing.”

What’s Next: The Statesmen have a triangular on February 23 with William Woods and the previously #18 ranked Columbia, whom the Statesmen defeated in their last action of 2020. The matches will be hosted by Columbia out in Missouri.

Posted by on Jan 24 2021. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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