Calvin Wetzel | Assistant Sports Editor
The Wheaton volleyball team hosted the Wheaton Invitational over the weekend, a tournament in which six teams competed in four matches each over two days. Wheaton opened up on Friday, Sept. 21, with two losses, but they bounced back on Saturday, Sept. 22, to take their first match of the day to the fifth set and earn a victory in their final match.
The tournament was won by Cornell College, who won all four of its matches on the weekend. North Central College took second, and Loras College finished in third. The Thunder tied with Lebanon Valley College and University of Dubuque, each finishing with one win and three losses, but the Thunder took fourth by winning the tiebreaker based on total sets won. Wheaton won six sets, while Lebanon Valley took four, and Dubuque won three.
Wheaton opened the invitational against Loras, losing in four sets. After Loras took the first set 25-23, the Thunder evened it up at one set apiece with a 25-17 victory in set two, but the Duhawks took the third and fourth sets each by a score of 25-17 to win the match 3-1. Junior Emily Buyse led the Thunder with nine kills, while freshman Lauren Wilhite led the team with 29 assists. Wheaton was led in digs by junior Cora Nott, who recorded 18 in the match.
Later in the evening, Wheaton squared off against the Rams of Cornell College. The eventual champion Rams took all three sets against the Thunder by scores of 25-21, 25-16 and 25-14. Thunder senior Cassie Murphy led her team in both kills and assists, with totals of seven and 11, respectively. Sophomore Megan McKinley was tops in digs with 12.
After winning one set on the opening day of action, the Thunder stormed back on day two. In the opening match on Saturday morning, Dubuque took an early 2-0 lead with a 25-20 win and a 25-23 win in sets one and two, respectively. Wheaton defeated the Spartans by a score of 25-12 to extend the match to a fourth set. This set started out similarly, as Wheaton jumped out to a 20-12 lead, but Dubuque was able to claw back into it and score seven consecutive points to come within one. Wheaton held on and came out with a 25-23 victory, forcing a fifth set.
The two squads battled to a 10-10 tie to start the decisive set, but Dubuque pulled away at the end and the Thunder fell 15-11 in set five, losing their third game of the tournament. Buyse paced the Thunder with 16 kills, and Nott once again led the team with 33 digs. Wilhite was the assists leader with 42.
“The loss to Dubuque was a tough one because we know the potential we have. Everyone on the team is extremely talented. The talent is not what we’re lacking, it’s just learning how to play consistently,” Buyse said after the team narrowly fell to the Spartans.
Wheaton salvaged a victory in their fourth and final match, knocking off the Lebanon Valley Flying Dutchmen. The Thunder started out strong, topping the Dutchmen 25-17 in set one, but went on to drop the second set by a score of 18-25.
In the third set, Wheaton regained the lead in the match with a 25-21 victory, and the fourth set also favored the Thunder 25-18. With that win the Thunder secured fourth place in the tournament. Sophomore Andy DeMoss had a team-high 18 kills, junior Megan Thornton led the hosts with 28 digs, and Wilhite set a career high with 49 assists.
Buyse was one of seven players named to the All-Tournament Team following the final matches of the afternoon. She was joined by Kylea Weber and Sabrina Hargis of Cornell, Kedryn Orrison of North Central, Regan Riley of Loras, Kacey Musseman of Lebanon Valley College and Susan Danielewski of Dubuque.
Buyse credited her teammates for the achievement.
“I consider it a great honor to be named to the All-Tournament Team, but volleyball is such a team sport that the passers and setters really deserve to be named All-Tournament too,” she said.
The only team in the Wheaton Invitational that Wheaton did not face, North Central College, came to King Arena on Tuesday night to take on the Thunder. The Cardinals took the first set by a score of 25-11. The second set was closer, but North Central still won 25-22. Wheaton avoided the sweep by winning the third set 25-22 but fell 25-21 in set four.
The Thunder’s record now stands at 4-14 following the loss to the Cardinals. They will next be in action on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m., when they will head to Elmhurst College to take on the Bluejays.
File photo: Allison Freet
Printed in the September 21, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to email@example.com.