The Wheaton Thunder women’s volleyball team celebrated two accomplishments this week. First, head coach Brittany Smith — who has been coaching for 12 years — reached a career milestone: her 300th victory at Friday’s game. Second, sophomore Jess Bosse was named CCIW’s Defensive Player of the Week, which was announced Tuesday night. Smith’s seasoned coaching experience and players’ excellent skills brought the Thunder to this point in the season. But it was their cohesive team spirit that propelled them to two victories this week.
The Thunder started out strong in the first game, keeping the pressure at the net with 14 kills, but North Central caught up in the second game, beating back the Thunder’s defense with 15 kills which left the teams tied 1-1. The Thunder came back in the third game, playing relentlessly until they won 27-25, ending with 51 attempts at the net and 13 kills. The team finished off strong in the fourth game, claiming a 3-1 victory over North Central. The team was led by Bosse, who landed 18 digs and three serving aces, senior Shelby Knowles, who fired off 19 kills and swooped in with 17 digs, and senior Ashley Torok, who contributed 31 assists.
After their victory, the women’s volleyball team traveled to Kenosha, Wisc. to play Carthage College, which would decide their seed placement in the CCIW Tournament. The Thunder was led by Knowles at the net with 20 kills and freshman Meghan Lacey who also kept the pressure on the net with 11 decisive kills.
“Our outside hitters are really solid and really dynamic so they can basically hit the ball no matter where you set it,” said senior Sara Reiskytl.
Four close games tied the score up and the Thunder prepared to enter into a fifth game. Carthage grasped a 9-5 lead early the game and still held onto their lead by the time Wheaton took their second and final time-out, leaving the score 11-7. But the Thunder struck back hard, literally, with kill after kill delivered by junior Katie Rohrer, Knowles and freshman Madeline Moore until the women’s volleyball team claimed a hard-fought victory.
“I love those matches that go to five sets, but I also hate them,” Reiskytl explained. “It’s so fun to see our team push through and get those really crucial wins.”
The Wheaton women’s volleyball team, on a six-game win streak, is now the third seed in the CCIW tournament. On Friday, the team will face Elmhurst for the first game of the CCIW tournament.