September 6, 2011

Volleyball dominates Cardinal Classic, rises 5-1

By Ryan Martin–

The morning after shutting down the Rebels of the University of Mississippi 3-0, the Cardinals’ women’s volleyball team went on to mirror that performance in the second game of the Crowne Plaza Cardinal Classic against the Eastern
Illinois Panthers, moving their overall record up to 4-1.

The Cardinals played hard throughout all three rounds with junior outside hitter Lola Arslanbekova as the leading scorer with 18 kills, one assist and five digs. Other leading scorers included Brook Mattingly with 5 digs and 6 blocks, Gwen Rucker with four 4 kills and 5 digs and Taylor Brauneis with one kill, 4 assists and 6 digs.

Throughout the three rounds, the women’s volleyball team played pretty consistently, winning by at least eight points in each round. In the first round, the Cards maintained the lead throughout the whole round, ending up with a 25-
12 victory. However, Eastern Illinois proved to be a threat at the beginning of the second round, having started out with the lead throughout much of the first part. “It was mostly due to our own mistakes,” says senior starting middle hitter Gwen Rucker, “Once we started taking better care of the ball and placing it in the court rather than trying to overpower them, we began showing better improvement,” Greg Juhl, father of starting outside hitter Emily Juhl, made the remark that the rough opening of the second round may have had to do with the coach moving the lineup around a bit due to a few injuries. “I don’t think what you saw in this match isn’t what we’ll be seeing in the matches to come,” he said. Despite a rough opening of the second round, the Cards managed to kick away from the Panthers winning 25-17. In the third round, the Panthers were not much of a threat as the Cards were ahead by nearly double margins for much of the round, ending up winning 25-15. Gwen Rucker was very satisfied with her team’s performance saying that they played really hard. “They [Eastern Illinois] gave us a good run and we
challenged back.”

As for the rest of the season, the team has high expectations to defend their Big East title. “The prospects are really good this year,” says Juhl, “I really like how they have come together as a team this early in the season and it should set them up well when they go up against teams in the tournament and other Big East teams.” Another fan, Bobby Petro, says that he is seeing much improvement out of the team this year. “Their plays and crossovers seem a lot more organized in comparison to last year,” he said.

Cardinal Arena got a very good turnout for the 11:00 game considering that it was a morning game. Greg Juhl described this turnout as being “very impressive”. “The turnout will bode well when we start playing teams at the Yum! Center and it will hopefully lantern the season.” Juhl said.

The Cards volleyball team returned to Cardinal Arena that night and went on to win 3-1 against Wichita State, giving them an overall victory in the Crowne Plaza Cardinal Classic. The team will return to action against the University of
Kentucky Wildcats women’s volleyball team on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 7:00 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum.

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