After one week and six away games, one word encompasses the theme of the beginning of the season for Wheaton’s volleyball team: travel.
This past weekend, the team traveled to Thousand Oaks, Calif. to compete in Cal Lutheran’s “Posada Royale Invitational” against numerous teams, including one of the nation’s highest-ranked teams.
In the first match of the invitational last Friday, the team faced Ohio Wesleyan. The Battling Bishops jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The Thunder lost all three sets by scores of 25-19, 25-19 and 25-23. Senior outside hitter Shelby Knowles collected 13 kills and nine digs for the Thunder in the loss.
The Thunder received no relief in the squad’s second game on Saturday against #4 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The women put up a commendable fight against the Athenas, but ultimately lost in four sets by scores of 20-25, 25-19, 25-15 and 25-9. Sophomore libero Jessica Bosse had a team-high 26 digs for the Thunder.
Later that same day, Wheaton took on East Texas Baptist University and picked up their first victory of the tournament in three sets by scores of 25-17, 25-18 and 25-19. Freshman outside hitter Meghan Lacey led the charge with a team-high 13 kills in the match and 11 digs.
The end of the invitational marked the end of the Thunder’s lengthy road start to the season. The Thunder played two matches this past week, both at home.
The first saw the Thunder pick up their second straight win against Lake Forest College in three sets by scores of 27-25, 25-20 and 25-17. Wheaton’s two best passers, sophomore setter Kelly Thornton and senior Ashley Torok, led the team with 19 and 17 assists, respectively.
Unfortunately for the Thunder, the team’s first home CCIW matchup on Wednesday night was spoiled by #22 Elmhurst College who defeated Wheaton in four sets by scores of 25-18, 25-27, 21-25 and 20-25. Junior middle hitter Emily Potts swatted a team-high four blocks in the defeat. Despite walking away without a win, Potts remained optimistic that this past week of play has the Thunder headed in the right direction.
“I am so impressed with the way our team is becoming more and more unified,” Potts explained. “We are jumping hurdles and competing really well.”
After taking this coming week off, the Thunder’s next hurdles will be a three-match tournament during the CCIW/WIAC Crossover Tournament in Steven’s Point, Wisc.