Grace College's volleyball team celebrates after scoring a point in Friday's Wyndham Classic. Photo by Josh Neuhart
Grace College's volleyball team celebrates after scoring a point in Friday's Wyndham Classic. Photo by Josh Neuhart
WINONA LAKE – An exciting first day of volleyball for Grace College was capped off by a five-set thriller at the Wyndham Classic on Friday.
The Lady Lancers defeated IU-East 3-1 to open up the tournament and ended the day with a memorable 3-2 win against IU-Kokomo.
In Grace’s opening match of the day, the Lady Lancers seemed to get better as the afternoon progressed. Grace lost the opening set to IU-East but recovered to win the match 3-1.
Grace had as many attacking errors (10) as kills in the first set, and the Red Wolves pulled away late to win 25-23. Grace’s defense impressed in the second set, tallying 15 digs including seven from Hannah Clemmons to win 25-21.
The third set was knotted at 20-20 when Annie Salazar provided a spark off the bench with pinpoint serves. Freshman Sierra Smith finished off the game with a kill as Grace won 25-22.
Grace’s offense was clicking on all cylinders by the fourth set. The Lady Lancers ripped off 21 kills on a .432 percentage to win 25-20.
Grace Woolsey was a dominant figure on offense, producing 10 kills on 11 attempts for a .818 percentage. She added a match-high six block assists. Kaitlin Kerrigan recorded 13 kills and seven digs, and Calah Kruse had 8 kills, 8 digs and 3 block assists.
Ellie Harp handed out 45 assists to spearhead Grace’s offense. Sierra Smith added 12 kills and four block assists in her collegiate debut, and Tori Bontrager had four kills on four attempts in her first match for Grace.
The Lady Lancers repeated their cold start in the second match of the day against IU-Kokomo. Grace had a team hitting percentage of .030, allowing the Cougars (0-2) to win 25-14.
Grace responded with more energy in the second set as late kills from Sierra Smith and Megan Johnson propelled the home team to a three-point win.
The third set was all Grace. The Lady Lancers exploded for 15 kills on three errors, blasting by the Cougars for a 25-14 win. But IU-Kokomo kept the match alive with a five-point win in the fourth game, using a 12-6 run late to force a tiebreaker.
After falling behind 1-4 in the early stages, Grace rallied with seven unanswered points. The Cougars did not fade, however, cutting Grace’s lead down to 8-7. From that point forward, Grace played inspired volleyball in front of a frenzied home crowd. The fans erupted after an acrobatic defensive save from Sara Miller was followed up by a kill from Tori Bontrager, handing Grace an 11-7 lead they wouldn’t surrender. Grace went on to clinch the match 15-12 on a well-placed kill by Woolsey.
Sierra Smith tied for match honors with 16 kills, and Calah Kruse was right behind with 13. Ellie Harp tallied 49 assists, 5 kills, 6 digs and 2 aces, and Miller had a match-high 20 digs.
Woolsey added nine kills on a .500 percentage to go along with 3 aces, 2 solo blocks and 3 block assists, Clemmons finished with 13 digs, and Laken Chaney came off the bench to tally five digs and an ace in her first collegiate appearance.
Grace continues action in the Wyndham Classic today against Indiana Tech at 11 a.m. and St. Xavier at 4 p.m. Watch both matches online at www.gclancers.com/watch