SPASH volleyball controls second place with victory on senior night
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT — The match against D.C. Everest on Sept 30 was all about the seniors. Thursday night’s showdown also had big implications on the WVC standings with only a few weeks left in the regular season. SPASH volleyball beat the Evergreens in straight sets, 25-21, 25-21, 25-16, to move to 5-2 in WVC play.
The Panthers used their own energy and energy from the crowd to come out of the gates strong on offense. SPASH got out to an early 4-1 advantage, but the opponents would answer with four straight points of their own to tie the set. Later on, both teams were smashing spikes at each other, with SPASH stringing together a run that made it a 20-12 game late. The Evergreens stole momentum away from SPASH, putting together a 7-3 run off of strategic ball placement on attacks. SPASH held on to a slight 23-19 lead.
SPASH gets ahead
“I think we started off really strong. I think we had moments where we would kind of get ahead, and we’d lapse. But, I think offensively, that’s something we have kind of been missing in the last week,” head coach Molly Willams said about her team’s offensive start. “It was nice to see us put some of those things together, and every hit we had was earned.”
SPASH closed the first set with a win after D.C. Everest made a service error into the net.
The Panthers were slow to start the second set. With the Evergreens leading 4-1 early, the game turned into the Emma Barton show. With Barton celebrating her senior night, she got called upon to make plays at the net. SPASH trailed for most of the set, but eight kills by Barton put the game within reach. She finished with 16 kills in total.
“I just want to slam the ball down every time. That is just my goal,” Barton said. “I love to do it for my team.”
The senior also briefly described how special her performance was on a night like senior night. She only needed three words.
“It was great,” she said.
Junior Sommer Wright finished the set with an ace to give the Panthers a 2-0 set lead.
Williams also explained what the team talked about in a timeout early in the set, leading to SPASH gaining momentum.
“A big thing we’ve been at is we need to figure it out together,” she said. “Our mantra this year is better together, and I think they took that second, they regrouped, and they moved forward. We had a lot of people who stepped up and made big plays at that moment.”
The Panthers close out the match
A 13-13 tie in the third set stretched out to a 21-15 lead for the Panthers, continuing to make plays offensively. The Evergreens sailed a couple of spikes deep, giving SPASH the 3-0 win. The defense was another big key for the Panthers. Senior Alli Schrank had 25 digs in the win, adding to the 1,000 dig milestone she reached on 9/24.
SPASH’s next home game will be against Chippewa Falls on Oct 4 at 7 p.m.