By Josh Neuhart
Grace College Sports Information
LAKE WALES, Fla. – The 2021 campaign for Grace’s volleyball team began in perfect fashion on Friday.
The Lady Lancers won twice at the season-opening tournament at Warner University (Fla.), beating Truett McConnell 3-0 and Warner 3-1.
Grace started its season with a flourish, easily dispatching Truett McConnell in three sets. The Bears boasted a 19-8 record last year.
The Lady Lancers stunned Truett 25-14 in the opening set. The Bears were held to six kills while Grace erupted for 15 kills on just three errors.
Grace was equally impressive in the second set, winning by eight at 25-17.
The Bears pushed hard to prevent a sweep in the third set. The teams could hardly be separated in the set with Grace clinging to a 22-21 lead. But back-to-back kills from Katie Swanson gave Grace space as the Lady Lancers clinched the sweep 25-21.
The offense for Grace was efficient in the season opener. Swanson led the way with 10 kills on a .412 percentage, adding four digs.
Jenna Mueller tallied eight kills on a .615 percentage, and freshman Alisha Leffring had five kills on a .625 percentage.
A pair of newcomers shared the setting duties with Emily Peterson and Morgan Syoen finishing with 16 assists apiece. Freshman Paige Vander Goot had three aces in her collegiate debut, Sahara Bee and Jadyn Ross each had four kills, and Gina Novotny tallied 14 digs to lead all players.
In the second match, Grace bounced back from an early deficit to win in four sets against Warner. The host Royals took the first set 25-20 as Grace struggled with 10 attacking errors.
Anna Frey helped Grace to a quick recovery in the second set; the junior had five kills in the set as the Lady Lancers blitzed the Royals 25-10 to even the match.
Grace’s momentum carried into the third set with a 25-17 win, setting up a dramatic fourth set.
The teams took turns late making small runs in the fourth as Grace led by two at 22-20. Warner scored four of the next five points to go ahead 24-23, putting the match on the verge of a tiebreaker.
Enter Jenna Mueller, stage left. Mueller was involved in the next three points: a kill to tie the score and two straight block points to clinch the match 26-24 in four sets.
Mueller was difficult to contain with nine blocks on 12 attempts, adding one solo block and four block assists.
Frey was a standout as well, amassing an incredible stat line of 14 kills, 12 digs, 3 aces, 1 solo block and 3 block assists.
Freshman Riley Owens shared the setting duties and tallied a double-double on her first day of collegiate competition with 13 assists, 10 digs and 3 aces. Syoen also set and impressed with 20 assists and four digs.
Cassadi Colbert and Leffring had six kills apiece, and Jadyn Block had 5 kills, 2 solo blocks and 3 block assists.
Novotny continued to lead Grace’s back row, tallying a match-high 24 digs.
The Lady Lancers will end their trip to Florida with two more matches on Saturday. Grace plays Mobile at 11:30 a.m. and St. Andrews at 4 p.m.