Strength in Numbers
MACU volleyball swept at home by N.C. Wesleyan
The Lady Mustangs are now 0-5 this season
By Craig Moyer
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Despite being shorthanded and less experienced, the Lady Mustangs battled from start to finish in their three-set loss to North Carolina Wesleyan at Chesson Gym on Tuesday evening.
N.C. Wesleyan (1-0) won the match in straight sets, 25-12, 25-19 and 25-7, despite a constant fight from the MACU side of the court.
Mid-Atlantic Christian University (0-5) dressed seven players for the match, while the Lady Battling Bishops out of Rocky Mount dressed 18, as depth was an important factor in the outcome of the match.
Those seven players for the Lady Mustangs include three freshman, two sophomores and one junior, so inexperience is also a factor for the team this season.
The Lady Mustangs roster is made up of freshman Ashley Sawyer, Reilly Muse, Allison Jordan and Nichole Powell, sophomores Brealle White and Mallory Brogden, and junior Leah Maclin.
Sawyer finished the match with a team-high 20 digs, as well as recording one ace and one kill.
Brogden was the team leader in kills, as the sophomore finished with six, as well as recording 10 digs.
Maclin also finished with 10 digs, while White added four digs.
One thing the already shorthanded team could not afford was an injury, but that is exactly what happened to the Lady Mustangs Tuesday evening.
Muse went down with an ankle injury late in the second set and missed the entire third set, leaving the Lady Mustangs with no substitution options for the remainder of the match.
Muse, the team’s setter, led the team with seven assists in the match, as well as adding one of the team’s two aces, despite missing the entire third set.
The Lady Mustangs also suffered from slow starts and finishes in each set, as well as several unforced errors, something they will look to improve on moving forward.
MACU head coach Kellie Kessler spoke with The Daily Advance about how she expects her team to improve throughout the season as they gain experience.
“What my young players need to learn how to do is read the court, read the opposite team and what they are going to do,” Kessler said. She then added, “If you have inexperienced players who are not reading the whole court, you are at a disadvantage.”
The Lady Bishops finished the first set on a 8-point run, the second set on a 3-point run and the third set on a 13-point run.
Despite struggling in the early and late parts of the sets, the Lady Mustangs had several runs of their own in the middle of the sets and had a few long rallies with the Lady Bishops, but were unable to finish many of them.
After the Lady Bishops rattled off seven points in a row to take a 17-7 lead in the opening set, Kessler called a timeout to regroup her team.
The timeout turned things around for a bit, as MACU scored five unanswered points to cut the lead in half, but the Lady Bishops overpowered the Lady Mustangs down the stretch with eight points in a row to win the set 25-12.
Kessler said her team needs to work on their conditioning in order to continue the rallies and force opposing teams into mistakes.
“Our team is so young and we have so many inexperienced players and we only have one on the bench, so I am pretty impressed with how they played tonight, especially against Wesleyan,” Kessler said.
The second set was the most competitive of the match, as several long rallies had the large contingent of fans for both teams at the edge of their seats.
As momentum shifted back-and-forth on the court, so did the cheers in the crowd.
After Wesleyan took an early 6-2 lead, MACU battled back to cut the lead to 7-6 and every time the Lady Bishops appeared to be running away with the set, the Lady Mustangs fought back.
After a few fierce rallies, MACU cut the lead to 20-18, as it appeared the set could go either way down the stretch, but Wesleyan shut the door, only allowing the Lady Mustangs to record one more point and won the set 25-19.
The third set was when fatigue became a factor for the Lady Mustangs, as they struggled as the set progressed and could not slow down the Lady Bishops, who controlled the momentum throughout the set on their way to the 25-7 set win and 3-0 match win.
Wesleyan had a very balanced attack, as nine different players recorded kills, five recorded aces and 12 recorded digs.
The Lady Bishops were led by Samantha Morton and Emily McLain with five kills apiece, Kelly Ammons with six aces and Callie Cline with 13 digs.
Kessler said she is looking to her more experienced players to take the younger players under their wing and help them improve in both the physical and mental parts of the game.
Kessler finished by saying that she just wants to see her team improve from each match to the next for the remainder of the season.
“We are trying to improve one percent at a time, so as long as every time we get on the court we are improving, then I am happy with the team,” Kessler said.
Former Perquimans standout Autumn Bateman earned playing time against the Lady Mustangs.
Bateman, who initially committed to Methodist University in March, was credited with a kill with two digs in the match for Wesleyan.
Bateman played a key role in Perquimans earning a share of the Coastal 10 Conference volleyball title her senior season in 2016.
Patrick Henry 10, MACU 0: The Mustangs (0-2) lost their season-opening home match to the Patriots on Tuesday afternoon. Up next, MACU takes on Regent on the road on Sept. 11.