Leafs News
Front Line Powers Maple Leafs To 2-2 Mark In Season-Opening Invitational
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Women's Volleyball - Sun, Aug. 20, 2017

HUNTINGTON, Ind. — The Goshen College women's volleyball team started its 2017 season with a pair of splits, winning their first match and losing their second on each of the two days of Huntington University's Forester Invitational.

The Maple Leafs were one of two teams to go 2-2 at the nine-team meet, effectively tying them for fifth place. Head coach Jim Routhier's team posted a straight-set win over Robert Morris on Friday and a four-set victory over William Penn on Saturday. While the team went down in straight sets to Missouri Valley and Saint Xavier, they had company: both schools went undefeated, combining to win 18 of the 23 sets they played.

Goshen finished second in the tournament in blocks per set, losing out 1.967 to 1.961 to the hosts. Sophomore Darienne Maust's 14 blocks were second-most in the tournament, trailing only Huntington's Josie Beaver (16), while senior Meghan Gerke finished with 12. Senior Christy Swartzendruber accumulated 53 digs for an average of 4.1 a set, good for third among non-liberos.

"We saw a lot of growth in the team this weekend with many of the freshmen becoming major contributors," said Routhier. "Darienne Maust began to take control of the net and become a major part of our offense. Our blocking is beginning to develop and we feel it will become a major factor in our defense. We are very pleased at where the team is this early in the season."

See below for summaries of each of the weekend's four matches or click here for cumulative statistics.

FRIDAY: Goshen def. Robert Morris 25-15, 25-22, 25-17 (stats)

Goshen picked up nine team blocks, its best mark of the weekend, in its opening match, goading the Eagles (0-4) into more hitting errors than kills in two of the three sets and an .045 hitting percentage for the match as a whole. Maust and Gerke each finished with a team-high four blocks to go along with five kills apiece: Natalie Omtvedt and Lindsay McQuinn added solo stuffs while Taylor Eash had a team-high six kills in her first college match.

Ally Roehr and Shelby Younts paced Goshen with three aces each and 11 and nine assists, respectively. RMU's Kristin Acciavatti led all players with 11 spike winners.

FRIDAY: (RV) Missouri Valley def. Goshen 25-13, 25-23, 25-16 (stats)

Swartzendruber's seven kills and 10 digs led Goshen in both categories, but GC would come up short against the Vikings (4-0), a group that won 29 matches in 2016.

Missouri Valley, which received votes in the NAIA national poll last week, used 13 winners from Dakota Santore to claim the victory. After Goshen won the opening point, MVC would reel off nine in a row on the serve of Deborah Constanzo before winning eight of nine points later on to seal the opening stanza.

GC took a quick 7-2 lead in the second behind kills from Maust, Swartzendruber, Eash and Hallie Vanitvelt. Elizabeth Breckbill added her first winner of the set as the score stretched out to 11-5 and prompted a Viking timeout.

The rest, as they say, was history: Missouri Valley used a 9-3 run to tie the score at 14 and took the lead three points later. Goshen would give up a 7-1 run to fall behind 23-17 before ripping off five straight points (including two blocks each for Maust and Gerke) to close within 23-22. While Goshen served to tie the set twice, two Viking kills put them a set from victory.

Missouri Valley never trailed in the final set before using late five-point and four-point spurts to widen their 13-11 edge to 23-14. Five different Maple Leafs put up two kills each in the third period.

Following Santore, Hailey Criswell and Katarina Krstonosic added nine winners each for the Vikings. Krstonosic led all players with 20 digs while Sarah Mueller added 39 assists. Maust had six kills and two blocks while Gerke chipped in five and three. Ally Roehr paced GC with 15 assists while Ritchie matched Swartzendruber with 10 digs.

SATURDAY: Goshen def. William Penn 27-25, 28-26, 20-25, 25-20 (stats)

None of the Maple Leafs' four matches went the distance in terms of playing a deciding set, but Saturday morning's tilt against the Statesmen (0-4) was the tournament's longest match by time played: an hour and 55 minutes. It was also Goshen's longest match of the weekend by points, with a total of 196 rallies that surpassed 26 of last year's 32 matches.

The opening set included 21 ties with the lead never extending past three points in either direction. Goshen led 20-18 before a 6-1 William Penn run gave WPU three set points: a block by Gerke and Maust coupled with a Swartzendruber winner and an attack error leveled the score. Another Maust stuff, this time a solo endeavor, put GC up 26-25 and a kill try landed wide on the next point to end the set.

Somehow, the second set was even tighter, with ties at every point from 14-14 to 26-26. Swartzendruber finished with five kills and Vanitvelt four in that stanza alone, the latter figure including two spike winners in a 4-1 run that closed out the 2-0 match lead. Goshen's third set looked to be easier as WPU led at 1-0 but wouldn't tie the score again until 14-14: seven Goshen attack errors in the next 17 points, however, sent the match to a fourth set.

Another five-point WPU run early in the fourth put them up 8-6, sending butterflies into the stomachs of Goshen fans (and tournament administrators—the match, which was the second of five Saturday in HU's Platt Arena, started more than 30 minutes late due to overruns in the opener). The Maple Leafs would quickly allay those fears, however, with a 9-1 run turning their deficit into an 18-11 lead. GC got its final seven points and nine of its last 11 on kills, including three straight off the hand of Maust to close the match, and hit .419 with 16 winners in the set.

Maust tied for match highs with 16 kills and five blocks while Swartzendruber and Gerke tossed in three stuffs of their own. Swartzendruber also chipped in 13 winners while racking up a team-high 26 digs. Roehr and Younts each posted 23 assists to lead the team while MacKinnon Tracy added all three team aces.

SATURDAY: Saint Xavier def. Goshen 25-17, 25-12, 25-19 (stats)

The Cougars (2-0) got a match-high 10 kills from Jessica Belseth and hit better than .200 in each set in a 65-minute win, despite needing five sets to close out William Penn in their season opener just half an hour earlier. Goshen turned in six blocks, just more than their tournament average of 1.96 per set, but could muster only 24 kills to SXU's 44.

Saint Xavier opened leads of 4-1, 13-7 and 18-9 before Goshen used a five-point run to claw back into the opening set. The Cougars took a page out of Goshen's playbook from the fourth set of their earlier match, using aces, kills or blocks to claim their final 13 points: in the final 6-2 run, the winners came from five different players.

SXU took even more control in the second set, winning 17 of the first 22 points and finishing with 15 winners. McQuinn was the Maple Leafs' primary bright spot, firing home three kills. GC led as late as 19-16 in the third, only to watch their opponents reel off a match-high nine straight points (including two aces from Kate Bontrager) to seal the win.

Gerke's five kills paced Goshen as did Roehr's nine assists and Swartzendruber's 10 digs. Maust finished with a team-high three blocks ahead of a quartet with two. Four Cougars finished with eight or more winners.

Goshen returns to the court with four road matches this week, starting with a trip to Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago on Tuesday afternoon. First serve in the Goodman Center is set for 4 p.m. The match will be Goshen's fifth straight against a team opening its season: not until August 30 at Huntington will GC face an opponent that has already played.