Friday, Sept. 8 and Saturday, Sept. 9, William and Mary women’s volleyball (5-5) went winless at the Bobcat Invitational, failing to pick up a win in three out-of-conference games at Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.
The Tribe closed out its non-conference schedule with matches against North Carolina State (8-1), Texas at El Paso (6-2) and host Ohio (5-4).
Entering the Bobcat Invitational, the Tribe maintained a 5-2 record to start the 2023 season, marking the best seven-game start for William and Mary since its 18-win season in 2009.
In the first game of the invitational, William and Mary lost to NC State in straight sets, 13-25, 25-27 and 19-25.
William and Mary got on the board first in the opening set due to a service error, with freshman middle blocker Amber Jarecki-Meyers recording her first career kill. In Friday’s match, which marked her collegiate debut, Jarecki-Meyers recorded two kills and a block assist, securing 2.5 points.
The Tribe managed to take the lead early, holding NC State off until the eighth point. The Wolfpack responded by erasing the deficit, and with eight straight points, won the first set 25-13.
The Green and Gold built momentum in the second set, led by graduate student outside hitter/opposite Taylor Burrell, who recorded six of 14 team kills. In the latter half of the set, the two teams continued to battle back-and-forth in scoring.
Freshman right side Katherine Arnason and outside hitter Audrey Brcka recorded two kills to reach set point for William and Mary, 24-23. NC State responded with a set point of its own. Graduate student setter Emma Minnick’s first kill of the game came at the right time, tying the match at 25-25. However, two consecutive kills from NC State’s sophomore outside hitter Ava Brizard won the second set for the Wolfpack 25-27.
In the third and final set, Tribe blocking from senior middle blocker Sabrina Malcolm, junior outside hitter Eleanor Stothoff and Burrell kept William and Mary in the game. Despite its stellar blocking, NC State managed to outhit the Tribe, winning the final set 19-25.
Entering the second of three matches, William and Mary looked to rebound against UTEP. In the first set, the Tribe started with a 4-0 run caused by three UTEP errors and a timely kill by Stothoff. UTEP responded and erased the deficit, taking the lead with its 12th point. The Miners continued its hot streak, winning the set 25-18.
William and Mary emerged for the second set with positive energy, monopolizing on mistakes by UTEP. Although UTEP reached set point first, the Tribe bounced back to win the set 26-24, tying the match at 1-1.
UTEP responded with strong third and fourth sets, winning 23-25 and 18-25, respectively.
On Saturday, William and Mary played Ohio in the final matchup of the invitational. Despite strong showings at the service line, the Tribe lost in four sets to the Bobcats, 3-1.
Ohio won the first two sets. The Bobcats grabbed the lead early in the first set, and maintained it for a 25-18 win. While the second set had three lead changes and tied scores, Ohio built momentum to take the second set, 25-14.
William and Mary looked to respond in the third set, creating seven tied scores with only one lead change. Despite being behind until the 14th point, the Tribe rallied to win the set 25-23 with decisive points produced by Minnick and Malcolm.
The final set was tightly contested with multiple tied scores and lead changes. However, after surviving three match points, the Tribe simply was unable to complete the comeback, dropping the set 25-19 and losing the matchup.
Burrell was a standout performer in the third match, continuing her prolific performance onto the second day of the invitational. She tacked on three aces and averaged 3.5 points per set, which earned her almost 40 points on the invitational.
The Tribe will look to recover as it returns home in the team’s first taste of Coastal Athletic Association play to face Charleston on Saturday, Sept. 16 and Sunday, Sept. 17 at Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg, Va.