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Volleyball hoping to dig out conference tournament bid

KelseyKruse

Junior Kelsey Kruse sends the ball across the net to her Cougar opponents in a home match Oct. 1. (Photo by Gina Eisenhut)

The women’s volleyball team hosted Crossroads League conference foe Spring Arbor Oct. 8 and came out the victor in a down-to-wire, five-set battle, 25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 24-26 and 15-9.

The nail-biting victory over the Cougars follows six consecutive conference losses for the Foresters. It also marks the Foresters’ second conference win, both of which came over Spring Arbor.

“The win was definitely helpful in getting us back on track,” Coach Amy Settle said.

The second time around, the Foresters were working with different personnel than in the two teams’ first meeting. Because of injuries, notably libero Kate Cobb’s, the team shifted their lineup in preparation for the game.

Cobb’s absence allowed Katie DePew, who tallied 31 digs, to take over the libero spot but caused other players to play both front and back row.

“When we have Kate and Katie in the back row, they can pick up anything,” senior Heather Medich said. “But we adjusted really well to switching up the lineup.”

On the offensive end, freshman Josie Beaver guided the Foresters with 11 kills, while senior outside hitter Brittany Rooze contributed 9 kills. Beaver also recorded 4 solo blocks.

Beaver’s productivity continued when the Foresters traveled to Saint Francis University for a tournament, Oct. 10-11. Beaver registered 40 kills and 25 blocks in the four-game series, in which the Foresters struggled to find their groove and fell in all four matches. Beaver’s performance earned her one of the six places on the all-tournament team.

“Her blocking is her biggest contribution to the team,” Medich said of Beaver, who is fifth in the nation in blocks per game.

DePew continued to aid on the defensive end with a tournament-total 90 digs. Freshmen setters Annie Pizzo and Emily Hubby contributed 57 and 55 assists respectively, during the Foresters’ weekend of play.

The team’s season record dipped to 4-14 following the team’s tournament appearance.

Though the Foresters left Saint Francis without a win, Settle said they competed well, taking a set away from each of the top three teams at the tournament. She expects the competition they faced will help prepare her team for the pressure of the second half of the conference season.

The team faces the impending second meetings with conference opponents with optimism.

“Every conference game we’ve played, I thought we could’ve won, and we’re going to see them for a second time,” junior Kelsey Kruse said. “I know we have the heart in us, and if we put that together with the unity aspect, we can win games.”

Settle feels confident that her team is capable of earning a bid into the conference tournament.

“This team is up for the challenge,” Settle said. “I’m excited to see how they’ll get it done because I really think we will.”

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