Behind senior middle-hitter Jennifer Johnson’s leadership and eight kills, the Rangers broke out the brooms with a 3-0 sweep. Following a humbling loss at the hands of Mankato Friday night, the Rangers entered Saturday afternoon’s match against Northwest Missouri prepared to start a new nine-match winning streak. They hosted the Bearcats in the third match of the UW-Parkside Invitational and made short work of their opponents.
“We executed our game plan and kept the ball away from their impact players,” said a pleased coach Parkside coach Michele Benoit.
Parkside passing defensively performed a bit shaky in the early going. The Bearcats held a lead for the majority of Game 1 until the Rangers took the lead 21-20 courtesy of excellent efforts around the net by the combination of Parkside’s Cassy Marx and Tami Gleason. Marx put the finishing touches on a 25-21 Game 1 victory with a brilliant tip deep in cross-court. Junior setter Andrea Gust directed the Parkside attack by culminating ten assists.
A solid contribution from freshman outside-hitter Caroline Langer’s two blocks and three digs bolstered the Rangers propelling them to a quick start in Game 2. Leading 17-11, senior middle hitter Jennifer Johnson would prove the value of experience with multiple intelligent decisions up at the net.
“It’s very confirming to be able to get back out today after a tough loss and play exceptional team volleyball,” said Johnson.
Despite a lack of timing by Parkside’s offensive quick attacks, they made up for it with a plethora of savvy plays that allowed the Rangers to coast to a 25-16 win. Game 2 witnessed the Rangers rack up five blocks as a team.
Parkside accelerated speeds in Game 3 jumping out to a commanding 17-11 advantage. Crisp hitting fueled their high-octane offense as they spread around the attacks which kept the Bearcats defensive off balance. Six different Rangers accumulated two or more kills in the game to finish off a three-game sweep of Missouri 25-20 in the third game.
Parkside’s Gust and setter Courtney Stack totaled 21 and 17 assists respectively. Missouri’s Ashley Mitchell led all players with 12 kills and five errors. Cassie Wilkens provided all-around solid statistics with nine digs and chipped in with six kills. Marx quietly led Parkside in kills with nine and hit for a match high 62 percent. The Rangers tripled Missouri’s block total with a whopping 12.
In the fourth and final match of the weekend, Parkside will host the University of Minnesota-Crookstone Golden Eagles in a late afternoon contest at 5:30. The game was officially changed from a 7:00 start time. The Rangers now stand with an overall record of 10-2 and have advanced to 2-1 in the UW-Parkside Invitational.
“Volleyball is simply a game where sometimes playing smart beats lack of execution,” commented Benoit. “It worked out today, but you can’t always depend on that.”