After snagging a spot in the Midwest Conference Tournament, the Lawrence University Volleyball team played two nonconference games to wind down the regular season before heading into tournament play. Although these two games did not impact their conference spot, the Vikings still competed with the intensity that they have carried throughout the season in order to prepare for the Conference Tournament.
The Vikings travelled to Plymouth, Wisconsin to play against Edgewood College and Lakeland University at Lakeland University. The Vikings fell to Edgewood 3-0 in three close sets, 25-17, 29-27, 25-15. Sophomore Arianna Neumeyer had nine kills and 11 digs to help the Vikings fight against Edgewood, while freshman Rachel Barthel added eight kills. Junior Lauren Ray led the Vikings with 10 assists.
Shortly after their lost to Edgewood, the Vikings fought to come out on top of Lakeland, 3-0, in three extremely close sets, 25-21, 25-22, 25-21. Neumeyer led the team in kills and digs combined, grabbing nine and ten respectively. Junior Rachael Wuensch added eight kills for the Vikings while sophomore Katie Kumbalek and junior Cyra Bammer had 14 digs apiece. Ray was able to steal 17 assists for the Vikings along with two aces. Bammer had three aces for the team which helped guide their success on the court.
After this strong success against Lakeland, the Vikings had enough momentum to carry them into the first round of the tournament against Cornell College. With the ideal goal of winning the tournament, their main objective was to play a strong game against Cornell and give them a run for their money just as they had earlier this season, when the two teams faced off. Cornell, who was 9-0 in the Midwest Conference and defending league champions, held the top seed in the tournament. The Vikings fell to Cornell in a strong three-set match in the semifinals, 25-15, 25-15, 25-9. Cornell had a quick lead of 10-5 that eventually resulted in them pulling away from the Vikings. In the second set, the Vikings were leading 14-13 after a kill from Barthel, but Cornell had a run of 12-1 to take the second set. Cornell had another early lead of 10-2 for the third set and quickly finished off the set to take the match and advance on to the finals. Barthel helped pace the Vikings with seven kills. Neumeyer was able to add six additional kills to the match and 10 digs. Junior Sydney Nelson helped push the Vikings along with 10 assists, while Barthel picked up seven digs and two aces.
Although the season ended in a bittersweet manner, this year’s volleyball team is able to claim something that no other team before them has been able to claim, and that is a spot in the Midwest Conference Tournament. This has been a goal for all the teams in the history of Lawrence, but this year was finally the year where everything fell into place. Despite the loss in the semifinals, the team was still able to soak in the fact that they were the first, and definitely not the last, to make it to the tournament.