After a disappointing 3-2 loss on Friday night, the Wartburg Volleyball team followed it up with a 3-1 loss to the no. 11 Gustavus-Adolphus Golden Gusties, but did rebound for a 3-0 sweep of the Hamline Pipers.
The Knights looked strong in the first two sets, winning the first and taking the second into extra points before falling 29-27, but Gustavus would dominate for large stretches in the later sets.
Wartburg found themselves down early in all four sets and relied on strong comebacks to keep themselves in the game. Co-head coach Jennifer Walker said the team was plagued by inconsistency throughout the tournament.
“Just consistency in our play is one of the biggest things,” Walker said. “Just having that feel of ‘we got this’ on the court and not doubting ourselves when we make a mistake or two mistakes, it happens in volleyball, it’s part of the game.”
Senior Aryn Jones led the Knights with 20 kills against the Gusties and also added seven digs and a pair of solo blocks as well, but did struggle with her serve and committed three service errors.
A bright spot from the Gustavus match came for senior Maria Brown who moved into seventh place all-time in career assists for the Knights.
Junior Lizzy Blough also contributed 13 kills, but many of them came in the early sets and she was very quiet in the third and fourth sets.
After the loss, Wartburg had a break before their next game and this allowed them to regroup and prepare for Hamline. The break seemed to have a solid effect on the Knights as they dismantled the Pipers in three sets 25-13, 25-14 and a 25-19 win in a third set where two senior starters, Jones and Bre Bader, did not see the court once.
With such a large lead, the Knights were able to rest many of their rotation players and allow their young players to get some valuable experience.
Walker said the ability to rest their starters could play dividends moving forward, especially coming off two hard fought, emotional games.
“We needed that kind of a finish today, I mean you’re grinding out two big games against two big opponents and to come into a what could be viewed as a lesser game for us and be able to be confident in what we’re doing out on the court, it’s huge,” Walker said.
One of the main subs was senior Nikki Burgin who saw some of her first sets of the year and responded in a big way. Burgin led the team in kills with seven and even added three digs and a block for good measure. Walker said it was special getting to see a performance like that from one of her seniors.
“Nikki played lights out, and that’s not an easy thing to do. She played like a senior and it was fun to see her to do it,” Walker said.
Wartburg’s next game will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 11 when they travel to Dubuque to take on the Loras Duhawks.