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Volleyball picks up first victory of season

The Pioneers in acion against Simpson College last Tuesday, a match they lost 3-0.  Photo by Jeff Li
The Pioneers in acion against Simpson College last Tuesday, a match they lost 3-0.
Photo by Jeff Li

Gabe Lehman

The women’s volleyball team fought a tough battle on  Sept. 1 but came up just short as visiting Loras College topped the Pioneers 3-0. While disappointed with the loss, the Pioneers were glad for the opportunities and lessons learned from their first match.

“Although we always want to strive to win, I feel like our goals are broader,” said head coach Jackie Hutchison in reference to the beginning of the season. “I think the first thing we talked about after that match was communication and how we have to do that better.”

The match started positively enough as the Pioneers jumped to a 12-11 lead during the first set but Loras College went on an impressive 13-3 run to take the first set, effectively killing Grinnell’s momentum.

“The point of having these games before Conference matches is to play challenging teams who will show us … how we’re doing and look at what our flaws are,” said Ariel Lepito ’17.

The night was not without exciting moments for the Pioneers. Jennifer Joy ’16 and Olivia Fromm ’17 recorded two aces and Emily Friedman ’19 had a team high five kills while Margaret Giles ’18 reached double digits in assists (11) and digs (12). The success of the first-years in particular has returning volleyball players excited for this season.

“They look really good. We have four first-years this year and all of them have seen the court at some point so far,” said team captain Sydney McClendon ’16. “It’s been exciting to get some new blood in there and see what they can do.”

Lepito mentioned first-year Emma Willhardt ’19 in particular as having an excellent serve. The promise from Willhardt and others led Lepito to have high hopes for the season.

“A realistic goal for us could be to be the best serving [team] because we have a bunch of really good servers and bunch of different types of serves,” Lepito said.

The lessons learned from Grinnell’s first game started paying dividends as Grinnell bested Marshalltown Community College in an exhibition game last weekend. The Pioneers won that contest in a thrilling fashion with the match being decided in the fifth and final set. 

“We were not going to lose that match,” Hutchison said. “There could have been a hundred reasons that we could have used as excuses for why we just cashed it in and lost that match but we didn’t and I think that says a lot about heart.”

McClendon was especially proud of the win against Marshalltown because of the struggles Grinnell has traditionally had with the fifth set.

“It was exciting this early to be able to finish strong and play all the way to the fifth set and still win,” she said.

On Wednesday evening, the Pioneers hosted Simpson College and lost 3-0. Despite the result, however, several Pioneers had impressive showings. Friedman had six kills, Giles distributed 16 assists andJoy had 15 digs.

Next week, Grinnell travels to Macalester College to partake in the 2015 Associate Colleges of the Midwest Tournament. Along with a hectic schedule of matches over that weekend, the Pioneers will take a day for community service in Saint Paul with their fellow tournament participants. Pioneer fans can next see the volleyball team in action when they host Central College on Thursday, Sept.  17 in Darby Gymnasium. 

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