Duhawks split on the road

Cornell College and Augsburg College; two tough competitors that the women’s volleyball team faced on Saturday. After a loss to Luther in the opening of Iowa Conference play, the Duhawks were eager for a win. The team split its matches, ending the weekend with a 1-1 record. With this lineup, some might be wondering why would the team purposefully schedule non-conference games against highly skilled competitors? Coach Jenna Ness has the answer.

The women’s volleyball team prepares for a recent match in the AWC. Photo by Maddy Cole

“I think it will be fun to see how we play against some top ranked teams. I always schedule tough so that we are ready to go for conference – we don’t take easy wins. I’m excited for our team to challenge each other,” said Ness.

The women’s first game of the weekend was against former IIAC member, Cornell College. Prior to this match, the Duhawks and Rams had met 15 times since 2001. After defeating Cornell three sets to none, Loras now holds a 6-10 series record against the Rams.

The Duhawks really came alive in their match against Cornell, and everything seemed to be clicking for the team. Fans were kept on the edge of their seats as Loras sealed the match with three very close sets (25-21, 25-23, 26-24). The team’s highest margin of victory was only four points. This shows the women’s ability to stay in control of the match and fight through until the end.

Unfortunately, after a thrilling victory against Cornell, the Duhawks fell to Augsburg College’s No. 20 nationally ranked volleyball team 3-0. Loras never gave in, but Augsburg’s several multiple-point runs drove the team’s momentum to a loss for the Duhawks.

While no one likes defeat, there is an advantage of the women’s’ contests against Cornell and Augsburg. The team is gaining experience playing nationally ranked competitors and learning how to better play together. Junior Therese Schultz expresses this concept perfectly.

“We’ve been playing some really skilled teams lately. Our coach schedules against these ranked teams to prepare us for our conference play so that we will be confident in those games. By playing these tough teams, we learn more about our team and realize the speed we need to play in order to win,” Schultz said. Schultz led her team in blocks this weekend with 10 in addition to recording seven kills and three aces.

Another impressive performance this weekend included that of Haley Bergan. Bergan tallied 32 digs in the two matches. She is currently ranked first in the Iowa Conference in total number of digs with 229 on the season and fourth in digs per set with 5.09. As the season progresses, the team is becoming more cohesive. This will be critical for Loras’ success considering there are still plenty of games remaining.

“Obviously losing is tough, but we learn from it, stay positive and are ready to focus on conference play,” Schultz added about the team moving forward.

Loras will compete in the IIAC-NACC Crossover Challenge this weekend hosted in the Athletic and Wellness Center. This will give the team one more opportunity to play some non-conference matches before facing Coe and Buena Vista next week.

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