It was a solid start for the College of William and Mary (3-1) this weekend, no matter where you place the emphasis.
You could emphasize the solid play for the Tribe, the fact that the College picked up three wins on the weekend while rotating a number of inexperienced players. Or you could emphasize the start. Like the head coach she is, Melissa Aldrich Shelton chose to emphasize the start.
“We’re looking to improve on our weaknesses from this weekend, which I think were some unforced errors, some service errors,” Shelton said. “I think we got a lot of the jitters out. We had a lot of new people on the floor compared to the previous season.”
The team looked jittery in the finale of the weekend against Ohio State University. The Tribe won the first set 25-17, heavily relying on junior hitter Erin Skipper, (19 kills, 1 block) who had six kills in the set. But the Buckeyes switched their strategy in the next three sets, doubling up on Skipper and shading her to the outside.
“They started putting two blockers up front like someone in football who, when you have someone busting through the line, put their two best blockers up front and that is what they did,” Shelton said. “They did a great job. It took us a little while to adjust but then our middles picked it up and Jordyn [Moloney] started making better choices.”
After losing the second set 25-21 and falling behind 16-11 in the third set, the College did not allow the Buckeyes to string together a run of more than three points for the rest of the match thanks in large part to the Moloney’s passing. These were not the Aggies of North Carolina A&T, whom the Tribe beat 3-0 Sunday, or Rider University or University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, defeated 3-0 and 3-1 respectively by the College on Saturday. These were the Buckeyes, a Big Ten school, and Moloney (37 assists) was excellent.
“I started off and I was really nervous. I didn’t know what I was doing, kind of,” Moloney said. “But I started getting comfortable with it and got in a rhythm and … it went pretty well.”
The Tribe dropped the final two sets against Ohio State by identical 25-11 scores, giving the Buckeyes a 3-1 victory. Service errors dogged the College as they committed nine in the last two matches alone.
And although the result was a disappointing one, the weekend and the final match were far from devastating. An estimated crowd of 473 fans filled the lower section of Kaplan Arena for the final match against the Buckeyes, a crowd not seen in quite some time for a volleyball match.
The Tribe faithful saw all-tournament selections Erin Skipper and junior middlebacker Ginny Bray (7 kills, 3 blocks) help the College match Ohio State point for point throughout most of the match. The excitement was enough to not only encourage the spectators and fans, but the players as well.
“I am so excited for the future,” Skipper said. “I think we played really well. I think we saw the potential
that we have and the team chemistry is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It’s very exciting.”
The College travels to Boone, N.C. this weekend to take place in the Appalachian State Invitational.