Veteran leadership and a game-changing performance from senior Tami Gleason helped Parkside stun No. 9 Indianapolis in their home opener.
UW-Parkside (6-3) upset the University of Indianapolis (7-3) Friday night in four sets at DeSimone Gymnasium in Kenosha, WI. In front of a hostile crowd of 157, the Rangers shocked the Great Lakes Valley Conference by capitalizing on their home-court advantage to win the final three sets of the conference opener.
The Greyhounds entered 2010 ranked No. 4 in pre-season polls among NCAA Div. II volleyball programs.
Gleason’s six kills, six blocks, and seven digs may not have been her most explosive match, but the versatile middle hitter shined in the most pivotal moments.
“Tami is such an effective defensive player,” said Parkside’s second-year head coach Michelle Benoit, following a 21-12 record last season. “People just don’t expect that from someone with her size.”
Parkside matched Indianapolis’ energy to start off the opening set. Ahead 12-11, the Greyhounds kicked their offense into full gear with an 11-to-5 run. The Greyhounds’ Kourtney Crawford gave Parkside’s front line fits with five kills, which translated into a 25-18 set win for Indianapolis. Junior Stacie Bower was the lone bright spot for the Rangers by shoveling out five digs.
Another crisp start from the Rangers in Set 2 saw junior Addie Kramer come to life with a clean spike that tied the game at 11. Taking advantage of the momentum swing, Gleason slammed a kill to grab an 18-14 lead. Four straight service points by freshman setter Cayla Flood closed out a 25-15 beating of Indianapolis to notch up the match at 1-1.
Parkside failed to execute defensively in the early going of Set 3. Trailing throughout, Gleason answered with a game-changing seven straight service points. That stretch proved to be the difference in the match.
“Taking the momentum meant everything,” said Parkside’s first-year assistant coach Jen Johnson. “We knew they had a scrappy defense, great ball control, and fast sets; it just took us some time to adjust.”
Off a broken Indianapolis possession, Flood assisted a smash by junior Cassy Marx down the right sideline to secure a 23-20 edge. On the verge of taking a match lead, Parkside burned a timeout to stall a potential comeback after Indianapolis put together three straight points. Parkside completed the 26-24 set victory with a rifling shot from outside hitter Caroline Langer that caught the left corner of the sideline. The sophomore sensation was brilliant with four kills and five digs in the set.
Riding a quick 8-4 burst in the fourth set, Parkside then surrendered 10 of the next 13 points to the Greyhounds. Freshman middle hitter Adrienne Uthe provided strong play up at the net, but the Rangers still faced a 19-13 deficit. Propelled by a hot shot courtesy of senior Cassie Wilkens, Parkside chipped their way back to tie the game up at 22.
Turning again to Gleason, her two late kills and strong defensive presence at the net sparked the Rangers. With Gleason serving, the Rangers tied the knot on a thrilling 29-27 victory with a Marx block on Crawford’s spike. The Rangers took the match 3-1.
“I want to be the go-to player in those situations,” Gleason said with confidence. “We hold each other at a high standard… I know we can compete with top teams in the country.”
Langer was superb producing 13 kills and digs apiece. Kramer and Wilkens combined for 23 kills.
Junior setter Courtney Stack facilitated the offense with 26 assists. Flood contributed with 19 assists and two service aces.
Bower anchored a stellar Parkside defense that strengthened as the match progressed. She added 16 digs.
“It wasn’t a miracle that we won tonight,” Johnson assured. “We knew they were beatable, and now we have to sustain this level of play for the rest of the year.”
Parkside continues their home-stand Saturday, Sept. 18 at DeSimone Gymnasium against conference opponent St. Joseph’s College. The Rangers’ second GLVC match is set to serve up at 3 PM.