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Volleyball: Mixed results in first UAA Round Robin

Peter Cooke

Issue date: 10/10/08 Section: Sports
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The Spartans combined for three team blocks in their 3-0 loss to WashU on Sunday.
Media Credit: Zhaoyang Wang
The Spartans combined for three team blocks in their 3-0 loss to WashU on Sunday.

Pittsburgh's 250th birthday celebration and the first UAA Round Robin tournament held several ups and downs for Case's volleyball team. The Spartans went into the weekend with a big challenge ahead of them, facing nationally ranked No. 4 Washington University, Carnegie Mellon University, the UAA's third seed, and sixth-seed University of Rochester.
The Spartans (13-7, 1-2) started off against CMU (13-11, 2-1) in a tough matchup. The women started out sluggishly in their first match Saturday night, falling behind quickly in their 0-3 loss (8-25, 21-25, 19-25). The team was able to bounce back from an enthusiasm-lacking first set to push the Tartans into the edge in the second set, but was unable to capitalize on several opportunities that could have swung the match. Alicia Beckett and Julie Schaefer helped keep it close on the defensive end with seven and 10 digs, respectively. Meanwhile, Tricia McCutchan led the Spartans on the other side of the ball with nine kills.
The women came back Sunday to play defending national champions WashU (15-4, 3-0). Case came out strong, looking to compete with a perennial top-ten team. A close 22-25 loss in the first set followed by the 15-25 and 17-25 defeats in the following sets showed the Spartans' tenacity against the best teams in the country.
"Just a few less errors and we could have had them. Even though we didn't take a game from them, they never got a chance to put their second lineup in, which was a feat in itself," said junior outside hitter S.K. Piper commented after the game.
Not to letting back-to-back losses against two of the UAA's premier teams get them down, the Spartans got a 3-1 win (25-18, 19-25, 25-19, 25-22) over Rochester (8-13, 0-3), with whom the Spartans have closely competed in recent years. The Yellowjackets put up a strong fight but were unable to claim victory.
The Spartans saw a quick turn around from their previous play, taking charge in the first set 25-18 with a dominating offense from Cassandra McFadden and McCutchan, who added 11 and 18 kills, respectively. The Yellow Jackets struck back in the second set, cashing in on several mistakes by Case. The Spartans weren't willing to let the weekend go without a victory, though, with an excellent 32-dig effort by junior libero Andrea Lamont. Lamont's defensive saves helped Schaefer and Beckett set the attack with 25 and 19 assists respectively.
Coach Karen Farrell was satisfied with the weekend's performances. Farrell was most impressed with her team's play against WashU. "Our team played very well in the match against Washington which should give our team some confidence that we can compete at a higher level in the coming weeks," said Farrell.
The team is looking forward to the next couple weeks with some challenging matches ahead. On Saturday, the Spartans travel to Heidelberg College for another tri-match. There they will face the 19-4 Student Princes, one of the top teams in Ohio, and the 11-8 Wilmington Raiders, both of the Ohio Athletic Conference. Following that, Case heads to Boston and Brandeis University for the second UAA Round Robin.
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