Memphis, TN, 9/11/21 – The Blue Jay volleyball team wrapped up their participation in the 2021 Rhodes Classic Saturday afternoon when they took on Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs. The Blue Jays would manage to win the third set to climb to within 2-1 but the Bulldogs proved to be to much as they would go on to win the match 3-1 (12-25, 18-25, 25-23, 19-25). The loss sees the Jays record slip to 2-4.
The Blue Jays threatened to tie the match at one set apiece when junior middle blocker Payton Bledsoe (Mexico, MO / Mexico) recorded a kill off of junior setter Kate Rable's (St. Peters, MO / Fort Zumwalt South) assist that got the Jays to within 19-18 in set two. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs would quiet the Blue Jay rally by scoring the final 6 points of the set to win and take a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Jays would play their best in set three. They would jump out to a 9-5 lead spearheaded by three kills by junior outside hitter Eryka Wanyoni (Columbia, MO / Hickman), who had a great tournament. The Bulldogs would rally and eventually take leads of 14-13 and 15-14. The Blue Jays would run off four straight points on kills by sophomore right side hitter Emma Geier (Verailles, MO / Morgan R-2), Wanyonyi and back to back service aces by sophomore defensive specialist Heather Ripperger (Hillsboro, MO / Hillsboro) staked the Blue Jays to a 18-15. The Bulldogs would not go away quietly as they would rally to tie the score at 22 all. A pair of kills by junior outside hitter Haley Menke (O'Fallon, MO / Fort Zumwalt West) would put the Jays up 24-22 and on the verge of a set four win. Geier would finish off the set with a kill as the Blue Jays won 25-23 and climbed within 2-1 forcing a fourth set.
The Blue Jays hung in with the Bulldogs to start the fourth thanks in part to a couple of kills by senior middle blocker Claire Whitehouse (St. Louis, MO / Parkway Central) as the Westminster and Texas Lutheran would find themselves tied 8-8. The Bulldogs would go on an eight-point run to end all thoughts of a Blue Jay comeback as they would cruise to a 25-19 set four win and a 3-1 match win. Texas Lutheran would improve to 6-1 overall.
Wanyonyi would again lead the Jays in Kills with 12 and Menke and Whitehouse each recorded nine kills each. Senior setter Gretchen Durbala (Burlington, IA / Burlington) again led the Jays with 30 assists. Senior libero Erica Schrader (Imperial, MO / St. Pius X) recorded 23 digs to lead the team's defensive effort followed by Wanyony with 12 digs. Ripperger led the team with her two service aces and Bledsoe led the team with four total blocks.
The Blue Jays will be back in action on Wednesday September 15th when they travel to SLIAC rival Greenville University to kick off the conference portion of their season. The game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. first serve.