GOSHEN, Ind. - For the fourth-straight match, the Goshen College volleyball team went to a decisive fifth-set. The Maple Leafs made it three victories in a row and finished a perfect week by defeating visiting Grace College 25-20, 25-22, 18-25, 23-25, 15-13 Saturday evening.
"This has been an unbelievable week, first Taylor in five, then Huntington in five, and now Grace in five," head coach Jim Routhier said with some relief. "I am very very pleased with the team's intensity and their attitude that they will not be beaten. I think they finally have the confidence that they can win against anyone in the league."
Despite visiting Grace clubbing 17 kills in the first set, the Maple Leafs nearly error free – 10 kills and just two errors – helped them grab the opening set 25-20. In the second set, neither team rolled off more than three points in a row, but Goshen was able to use two late kills from Hannah Grieser and another by Emily Waits to pull out a 25-22 win.
Tied at 18-18 in the third, the Lancers took advantage of some Maple Leaf miscues. The visitors scored the last seven points of the set - including four Goshen attacking errors - to get back in the match with a 25-18 win. The Lancers' Dana Johnston had seven of her match-high 20 kills in the fourth set as Grace pulled even in another tight set 25-23.
The Maple Leafs were playing against some recent bad history in the fifth. The last two times Goshen had a 2-0 lead on its home court, the opponent (Bethel and Marian) was able to rally for three-straight to take the match.
"We really struggled to stop their slide to the right side and their middle attack," Routhier explained. "By the 5th set we were able to slow it down enough to get a play off of it. That was the turning point for us."
Early kills by Melanie Meyer, Sam Heberling, and Hannah Grieser, though, got the Leafs off to a good start at 8-3. It was far from over, however, as Grace immediately answered with a 6-1 run and the score was tied 9-9.
Goshen was not going to let history repeat itself, though, and they rallied for five straight to set up Meyer who smashed a kill off the Lancer block and out of bounds for the match-winner.
"Mel was very instrumental in our offense today," Routhier added. "She is an athlete and is really begin to understand how to use that athleticism in volleyball."
Meyer led the team with 15 kills on .267 hitting. Jaime Stack posted 11 kills, Grieser added 10, and Stacy Wyse dished out 45 assists. On the defensive end, Stack led the team with 19 kills, while Grieser and Missy Mackowiak each had 14.
"Stacy is a wizard at making something out.of a bad play. and that ability showed a lot today," Routhier continued. "We have finally begun to attack with a purpose and be smart hitters instead of just swinging and hitting the same way and place each time. Missy is just amazing at times. Every coach that we play comments on her outstanding ability to read and dig any hitter. "
Goshen's third win in a row moves them to 11-15 on the season and 6-8 in Crossroads League play. Next week, they are slated to host Spring Arbor University on Wednesday, travel to Bethel College on Friday, and host the University of Saint Francis on Saturday.
"We knew all season that we were a much better team than our record showed," the fourth-year head coach concluded. "We still have some things to work on, but we are playing very well going into the last part of the season."