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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Volleyball surpasses last season’s win total

John Brady
Lindsay Fujimoto ’15 was one of four seniors recognized on Senior Day. Photo by John Brady.

The volleyball team lost two home games last weekend to conclude its season with a record of 8-20. The Pioneers made vast improvements from last year, when the team recorded three overall wins.

Last Friday’s match against Monmouth College was Senior Day and it lived up to the hype. Hours prior to the game, Professor Kesho Scott, Sociology, gave an inspirational speech on the history of women and the concept of team to the Grinnell squad. Four seniors—Claire Weidman, Natalie Duncombe, Lindsay Fujimoto, Emma Knatterud-Johnson—were recognized and presented with gifts, including leis from Fujimoto’s family, who made the trip from Hawaii.

“Going into the game, we felt ready,” said Margaret Giles ’18. “We knew it was the end of the season. We wanted to honor our seniors, who have been so great to us.”

The match almost turned into a celebration, too, when Grinnell tied the game at 2-2 after losing the first two sets. In the third set, key serves by Weidman, Sydney McClendon ’16 and Giles put the team up by 15-8, completely swinging the momentum.

“Being Senior Day and all, I think the upperclassmen were like ‘you know what, we’re not going down without a fight’ and there was an attitude shift,” Weidman said. “All season, we’ve had a hard time starting fast. It took us a few sets, but we finally got our minds in the right place and that’s what it comes down to.”

Lindsay Fujimoto ’15 was one of four seniors recognized on Senior Day. Photo by John Brady.
Lindsay Fujimoto ’15 was one of four seniors recognized on Senior Day. Photo by John Brady.

Unfortunately, the Pioneers fell behind 10-5 at one point in the fifth set, a big hole to climb when 15 points win the set.

“We didn’t come out as strong as we should have to win that set easily,” Weidman said. “You just can’t let a team get ahead that early in the fifth set. It just makes [it] harder to come back. By the time we started gaining momentum again, they were getting close to winning.”

On the following day, Grinnell hosted Knox College in the season finale. After losing the first set, the Pioneers saw themselves in further trouble, down 24-22 in the second set. Thanks to Knox’s attack error and Giles’s service ace, the set went to deuce. Multiple times, the Prairie Fire gained the advantage in the deuce, but Duncombe recorded four straight kills to snatch the set victory 28-26.

“Natalie was having one of her best games,” Fujimoto said. “She was placing her shots extremely well—cross court and line—and finding ways to score. Margaret did a really good job of recognizing that Natalie was being really effective. It’s what we needed at the time and she got the work done.”

The team could not sustain its burst of energy, however, dropping the game 3-1.

“It was disappointing to lose our last game, but it was more of a reflective environment where we talked about what was great about the season [and] what the seniors have done over the years,” Fujimoto said. “The one last GC Pride cheer was pretty emotional.”

Though small in number, the seniors were a pivotal part of this year’s team. Filling in their shoes next year will be a crucial transition for the Pioneers.

“I don’t know exactly who’s going to come in next year, so I’m interested to see what’s going to happen,” Giles said. “But I feel like we definitely have girls who will be able to improve and take steps to fill their places. I don’t know if it’ll happen immediately. Everyone on the team has potential.”

For now, however, the team is savoring the end of the season.

“Overall, I’m proud of the way my team did this season,” Weidman said. Although I would have like to go to the Conference Tournament and have a better season statistically, the memories and friendship will be there forever.”

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