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The women's volleyball team experienced triumph and frustration this weekend at the UW-Oshkosh tournament in Oshkosh, Wis.
After winning their first match in a stellar four-game effort over a regionally ranked Elmhurst squad, the Muskies faltered during the remainder of the weekend and were promptly handed their first three match losses of the season.
"We did not compete today," said head coach Chad Schreiber of his team's efforts on Saturday. "We had very poor focus, no energy and we didn't put as much effort into today's match as we did against Elmhurst yesterday."
In Friday's first match against Elmhurst the Muskies put up blistering numbers on offense to help take the match 33-35, 30-28, 30-28 and 30-28 as the outside hitting duo of junior Ashley Domask and sophomore Heidi Kramer each recorded 17 and 14 kills respectively. Domask rounded out her game by leading the team in serving with 2 aces and contributing 16 digs on defense, just shy of sophomore defensive specialist Danielle Swindell's effort of 20 digs.
Sophomore setter Jessica Sparling aided the scoring drive with 50 assists and six kills, while also picking up nine digs. Freshman outside hitter Britannie Paulus also produced a strong showing for the Muskies, leading the team in block assists with five and adding 11 kills and 12 digs.
"We had a team full of people willing to turn things around and get the job done against Elmhurst," said Schreiber. "Everyone was contributing."
However, the team incurred their first match loss of the season in their next match of the night as they faced the University of St. Thomas, ranked fourth in the Nation. Despite another strong showing from Domask, who led the team on offense and defense with nine kills and 18 digs, Lakeland could not match the effort of their previous match of the night, losing in three games 21-30, 19-30 and 20-30.
Kramer also boosted the team with eight kills and four digs, while senior outside hitter Erin Helbing chipped in five kills and six digs.
Although the Muskies had hoped to turn things around in day two of tournament play on Saturday, inconsistencies dogged the team into a pair of match losses to Carthage and Loras.
Against Carthage, a dismal offensive effort plagued the team as the Lady Red Men blanked the Muskies in three games 11-30, 16-30 and 24-30.
Although fifteen players on the Muskies' roster saw court time at some point in the match, Domask continued to lead the team on offense and defense with six kills and nine digs.
The match-up with Loras provided slightly better results, as the Muskies pushed the match to four games after taking the second game 30-23. However, the team could not carry the effort into the next games to snatch the match win, resulting in the final loss of the weekend (21-30, 30-23, 18-30, 25-30).
Junior Shelly Bruni was the new offensive leader in the match, knocking down twelve kills, followed by Domask with ten and freshman utility Kaylyn Kasper with nine. Domask also assisted defensively with 12 digs, with sophomore outside hitter Whitney Helbach and junior defensive specialist Rachel Young chipping in 11 and 10 digs respectively. Sparling also provided a well-rounded effort, racking up another 40 assists to go along with six kills, eight digs and four aces.
"We had people sitting back today and waiting for other people to step up," said Schreiber. "We had a poor adjustment period today. Until we learn to serve receive, we can't get a whole lot better."
Despite the losses, Schreiber saw a lesson to be learned by his program from their experiences in the tournament.
"When we're willing to put forth effort and focus, we showed we can compete with nationally-ranked teams," he said. "When we're not willing to do that, we can get beat by anyone. I have challenged each person to correct their mistakes. If they can do that by our next match, collectively we'll be much better."
On Wednesday, September 20, the Muskies will look to correct their missteps and get back on the winning side of things in their home-opener against Northern Athletics Conference opponent Benedictine at 7 p.m.