St. Louis, Mo. – The No. 10 ranked Westminster College volleyball team saw their toughest challenge of the year this afternoon on the road at the No. 22 ranked Webster University Gorloks. The Blue Jays had their toughest hitting game of the season hitting a season low .135 and lost their first game of the season in four sets (24-26, 12-25, 25-12, 18-25). The Blue Jays drop to 8-1 overall and 8-1 in the SLIAC.
The first set was fitting of two nationally ranked teams. Webster would jump out to a 7 point lead early and the Blue Jays would settle in and begin a comeback. Trailing 23-19 the Blue Jays would run off four straight points to tie the score at 23-23. After a Webster kill made it 24-23, Eryka Wanyonyi would come through on a kill off a Gretchen Durbala assist to tie the game at 24-24. Webster, however, would score the next two points to win 26-24 and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
After an 8-7 back and forth start, the second set went south on the Blue Jays in a hurry. A 7-0 run by Webster gave them a commanding lead at 15-7 and the Gorloks would cruise to a 25-12 win and a 2-0 lead in the match. It was a set to forget as the Jays hit .000 with as many errors (8) as kills (8) that led to the lopsided result.
The Blue Jays would flip the script on the Gorloks in the third set. With Westminster leading 8-7 the Blue Jays would make their presence known with a 7-0 run to take control. Four Haley Menke kills fueled the run and Allie Kennebeck punctuated the run with a service ace to make it 15-7. Menke would factor in to the next run as well with a kill and a service ace in a 3-0 run that would give the Blue Jays a double figure lead at 18-8. The Blue Jays would hit a match high .478 and cruise to a 25-12 win to force a fourth set.
The fourth set was a tense affair early Menke would tie the set at 14-14 and again at 15-15 with kills. The Gorloks however, would not let the Jays take the lead. A 3-0 Gorlok run would see them take a 18-15 lead. The teams traded points after that and the Gorloks would finish off the Blue Jays 25-18 to take the set and the match 3-1.
Menke and Wanyonyi led the Blue Jay attack with 13 kills each. They both would record double-doubles as Menke would record 11 digs and Wanyonyi 18 digs. Durbala recorded 35 assists and had a double-double with 11 digs. Erica Schrader led the Blue Jays with 20 digs.
Coach Natalia Koryzna had this to say about the match, "We didn't get the result we wanted today. Have to tip our caps to Webster. They came out on a mission, played hard and executed. They wanted it more." She would add, "This is a good learning experience for us though. The games will only get tougher as we near the end. Nothing will be given to us. We need to fight harder."
The road doesn't get any easier for the Blue Jays as they will be back in action at No. 15 nationally ranked Greenville University this coming Saturday. The Blue Jays are in a tie for first place with the Panthers at 8-1 atop the SLIAC standings. The match is set for a 11:00 a.m. first service.