The Lawrence University Volleyball team continued its difficult non-conference schedule Sept. 17 at the Red Hawk Invitational hosted by Ripon College. The Vikings took on two teams from Minnesota, the St. Mary University Cardinals (13-1) and the St. Catherine University Wildcats (8-5).
The morning began with the Vikings facing St. Mary’s. Lawrence dropped the first two sets 25-22 and 25-15 before coming back strong to win a hard fought third set 28-26. The Vikings would ultimately lose the match as they lost the fourth set 25-12. Freshman Rachel Barthel led the team with 16 kills and 11 digs while junior Liz Arco contributed another 10 kills.
Junior Lauren Ray also had a nice individual performance racking up 24 assists.
Later in the day the Vikings took on another strong team—St. Catherine’s. St. Catherine’s won a close first set 26-24 but the Vikings took the second set 25-21. The second half of the match belonged to St. Catherine’s as they won the third and fourth sets 25-18 and 25-17. Arco paced the Vikings this match with another 10-kill performance. Other notable individual performances belonged to Ray with 24 assists, junior Sydney Nelson with 18 assists, junior Cyra Bammer with 17 digs, and sophomore Katie Kumbalek adding 14 digs.
For her performance throughout out the tournament, Arco was named to the all-tournament team. She had two double-digit kill games, for a total of 20 on the day and ended the tournament with a remarkable hitting percentage of .341.
Even though the Vikings have struggled against non-conference opponents, recording only four wins and nine losses so far this season, the team is excited about their direction. The roster is full of talented players and is much stronger than previous seasons. According to sophomore Claire Vinopal, the challenge going forward is to “play as a team and keep high energy on the court.” While this will not be an easy task, the players are all very motivated and committed to being the best team they can be.
The Vikings will close out their non-conference schedule this week traveling to Carroll University on Sept. 22 and then facing MSOE at home on Sept. 24. After that, their focus turns to conference foes. They hope to put together a strong conference season and qualify for the conference tournament. To do so, they would need to be a top-four team in the conference. This goal will require good performances when it counts, but is well within the team’s reach.