In their first weekend of home games, the Chargers defended their home court with two wins against Ohio’s Malone University Pioneers and the Walsh University Cavaliers. Although both matches were tighter than those at the previous weekend’s tournament in West Palm Beach, Florida, the Chargers prevailed and now are tied with Findlay University at the top G‑MAC North Division.
The Charger’s Friday match against the Pioneers marked their conference opener for the season. The Chargers allowed the Pioneers to score only 12 points in the first set. The Pioneers gained temporary control over the second set with a steady offense, racking in thirteen kills, and beating the Chargers 25 – 23. The Chargers closed out the match with two more set wins on their way to victory. Leading the defensive play, freshman libero Alli Wiese finished with 19 digs in the match.
Saturday’s match against the Cavaliers followed a similar pattern. The Chargers won the first set but lost the second, heading into three more tight sets to secure their win with their final match ending at 26 – 24. In the closing two sets, freshman Amy Buffini contributed seven kills and senior Maddie Clark added six more kills to put the Pioneers to rest.
“I have been trying to not think about it being my last year, let alone last semester,” Clark said. “I’m trying to stay in the present, and focus on where my feet are.”
In the match against the Pioneers, 17 of the 18 players saw court time with 14 of them making one or more kills. The match against the Cavaliers proved to have the same dynamic consistency with players like junior Karoline Shelton and senior Allyssa Van Wienen contributing 17 and 13 kills respectively. Wiese had 28 digs in this match which granted her a second week named the G‑MAC North Division Defensive Player of the Week. She now leads the conference in digs at 201.
“The team success is always the #1 priority in my mind, but it means a great deal to be recognized in such a positive way,” Wiese said. “ I wouldn’t have been able to get this award without the help of my team, and I can not wait for us to keep improving as the season advances.”
This consistency is the foundation of great play according to head coach Chris Gravel. With these matches being the first home games of the season, Gravel commented on honing in on the team’s focus regarding the second match, which is a key determinant for the outcome of the match. With a home crowd and a winning streak, the Chargers said they faced a new kind of pressure this past weekend.
“We came out both nights very focused and just destroyed the team and then we let up a little bit,” Gravel said. “We meet after every match and I didn’t have to say anything. They were all bringing up things that they needed to work on in practice.”
The Chargers ended the weekend at 8 – 2, 2 – 0 G‑MAC, placing as one of five teams going 2 – 0 in conference play. This weekend, the team will travel to Kentucky and Tennessee to play Kentucky Wesleyan College and Trevecca Nazarene University, the G‑MAC South Division co-leader.
“We come into this season knowing that we have the potential to be a really tough team.” freshman Maizie Brown said. “We know that we have to take care of business each and every game, and that to become the elite of the elite we have to use every opportunity to play as an opportunity to get better.”