By KELLY SCOTT
The University of Mary Washington volleyball team competed in the Lynchburg College tournament this past weekend, winning three of their four matches including a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays.
Friday evening, the Eagles overcame an 0-2 deficit to beat Johns Hopkins University 23-25, 22-25, 25-18, 28-26, 15-13 after coming away victorious against Randolph College 25-17, 26-24, 25-15 earlier in the night.
“They were determined to win”, explains 2009 CAC Coach of the Year Dee Conway, who has been with Mary Washington as head volleyball and softball coach for more than two decades. “We made some offensive and defensive adjustments. Eventually we gained momentum and kept it.”
The Lady Eagles saw contributions from many different players during their win over Randolph College. Freshman Hannah Lawson went 11-15 on kill attempts without an error as well as adding seven digs. Sophomore and 2009 CAC Rookie of the Year Laura Gomez added six kills while sophomore Ellen Smethurst went 4-7 on kill attempts and junior team captain Tola Adebanjo tallied six kills. Adebanjo’s fellow team captain, junior Katie Shiflett, wracked up 12 assists and nine aces while freshman Sammy Hogue added nine assists.
In the later game on Friday, the impressive comeback over John Hopkins, the Eagles had to step up and come together as a team in order to dig themselves out of the 0-2 hole.
“Volleyball really is a team sport,” Adebanjo said. “We’ve got the passers, the setters and the hitters, and no one person can play this game without the aid of another teammate.”
The second game helped display Adebanjo’s stress of volleyball as a true team effort, as no one player dominated the action but the efforts of multiple players helped the Eagles in their comeback. Gomez went 15- 35 with one error, while Lawson added 12 kills, and Adebanjo recorded 10 kills in her own right. Smethurst posted six kills and six blocks, Shiflett had 33 assists and 10 digs while sophomore Karissa Herrick recorded seven blocks. Freshman Kaitlynn Wickersham added 17 digs to help lead the Eagles to victory.
The success of the Eagles continued in their first match Saturday morning against Johnson and Wales University, as UMW came away with a rather easy 25-14, 25-18, 25-12 win. Gomez had seven kills and three aces, and Lawson posted eight kills and three aces. Meanwhile, Shiflett and Hogue did their part in setting up their teammates, as the pair lead the team in assists, Shiflett with 15 and Hogue with 10.
The Eagles finished off their tournament with a tough loss against the host team, Lynchburg College, falling 25-23, 25-19, 25-23. Gomez had eight kills and Cleo Baker had seven. Shiflett again excelled in setting up teammates, tallying 17 assists, and Wickersham led the team with 17 digs.
Despite the loss to Lynchburg, the Eagles had a winning record, 3-1, at the tournament and improved their overall team mark to 8-2 on the year.
“We performed well on most occasions,” Conway said. “The players worked extremely hard, trying to overcome the loss of two players (due to injuries) and one player playing through an injury. Everyone did a fantastic job on adjusting. We are still working on becoming a team. We are young and still growing.”
The Eagles have no seniors this year and only three juniors, making the majority of the team underclassmen. The Eagles will return to the court on Wednesday to host a fellow CAC team, Wesley College, at 7:00 p.m.