Youthful inexperience shines as the Rangers 3-0 shutout makes for a cake-walk against the Cougars. Parkside women’s volleyball squad hosted Division III Saint Xavier University at UW-Parkside in Kenosha Tuesday night.
The Rangers 11-2 record entering action had them ranked a solid second in the Great Lakes Valley Conference behind perfect 14-0 Indianapolis.
With 12 wins to their credit, the Rangers have already surpassed last year’s total (10).
Plagued by injuries and an unexpected 30 minute delay (fire alarm), Parkside came out with anything but flawless execution. Despite being a less superior collegiate division and playing in a hostile environment, the Cougars opened up a 10-6 lead and held their ground throughout Game 1. However, the game’s momentum took a twist with an excellent volley sequence by the Rangers finished off by a Tami Gleason block to tie the game at 18.
A couple of smashing blows by middle hitter Jennifer Johnson would seal the deal as the Rangers took Game 1, 25-20. Unproven freshmen Caroline Langer and Shannon Curtis would contribute notably by combining for eleven digs.
Superb serving and terrific penetration around the net would provide plenty of cushion for Parkside in Game 2. With a 14-4 advantage, head coach Michele Benoit utilized Parkside’s ability to tinker with different rotations on the floor.
“It’s always a positive aspect for these young girls to get live action out on the floor,” said Benoit. “I just stress to them the importance of translating reps from practice into the game situation.”
Fortunately, it isn’t just the up-and-coming Rangers who have absorbed her wisdom.
Parkside would increase its lead to as much as 16 as they rolled to a 25-10 victory. Gleason, Johnson, and sophomore south-paw Addie Kramer would rack up three kills for the second straight game.
Parkside setters Andrea Gust and Courtney Stack would resemble generals commanding an inexperienced supporting cast in Game 3. With a valuable opportunity to showcase Parkside’s future talent pool, the Rangers kept the game more than respectable. Highlights such as freshman Rebecca Kelly’s thunderous block would shed light on a plethora of Parkside potential.
Capped off by a 9-1 run courtesy of Gust’s two aces, the Rangers would finish off a convincing win 25-19 to secure their third straight sweep. Freshman middle hitter Abby Beilke displayed an exceptional skill-set letting loose three kills. In addition, freshman defensive specialist Vicki Hart shoveled out five digs.
“We work extremely hard together in practices to make sure everyone is prepared to perform at the highest level,” said Gust. “It’s really boosted our team chemistry.”
The lethal setting combo of Gust and Stack not only managed Parkside’s offense but added 25 assists to the stat sheet. Gleason and Kramer each produced seven kills a piece. Langer exemplified her versatility with four kills, six digs, and chipped in with two assists. St Xavier’s setter Ashley August would boast a match high 20 assists. Curtis stepped in for injured libero Stacie Bower smoothly by providing seven digs.
Kramer currently leads all Parkside players in kills for the season with 117. Gleason, Langer, and junior Cassie Wilkens have all topped 100 kills in their first 14 games. Between Stack and Gust, the two have combined for over 500 assists for the season. Gleason leads the Rangers in blocks with a 1.29 per set clip. Bower’s duties as a defensive specialist have been nothing short of admirable averaging almost four digs per set.
The Rangers begin an extensive road trip this week featuring their first conference match at St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, Indiana. The bout will occur Friday evening at 7 pm.
“It’s been a successful week,” said a reserved Benoit. “However, with conference matches upcoming, there is no time to remain satisfied.”