Chicago, IL: The Moody Archer Invitational has given the Tigers new life. Ironic since they didn’t win a match but according to Coach John Spooner the effort was significantly better. “We were very disappointed in how we played Wednesday night against Kuyper and our number one goal was to focus on competing for every point as a team.”
In the first match the Tigers stepped up their ball control and defensive play against Dayspring Bible College but lost 3-1. 24-26; 25-19; 19-25; 18-25. “We played with more energy and our serve receive was the best of the year so far. I was very encouraged with how we worked at running a quicker offense with many options. Our attack errors hurt us but we were more aggressive and had several chances to change momentum our way. We have got to improve on our concentration and focus at critical ‘money ball’ times. But I was very pleased with how the team responded.” Coach Spooner said after the match.
In the second match the Tigers faced the defending regional champions and 2nd ranked team in the NCCAA Div.II-Maranatha Baptist Bible College. Behind their national player of the year- Torey Delozier, Maranatha was solid in the first set winning 25-9. But it was the second and third sets that Coach Spooner found particularly special. “This was perhaps the first time all year we’ve really found ourselves playing consistently at a higher level. Leading for most of the third set but losing 25-21 was hard to take but we competed for every point. No one quit and I was very proud of that effort. I have never believed in the ‘good loss’ cliche but with great effort it gives the team a level of confidence even though we lost. Playing without Nichole Galbicsek changes a lot with having to move Aubree Domsic to outside hitter but she really played well and will only improve as the season progresses.”
For the night Naomi Kemper led with 17 kills and 16 digs. Joee Spooner had 14 kills, 4 solo blocks and 4 assists. Leslie Pumford had one of her best two matches of the year with 9 kills and 3 blocks. Jessica Ryan had 39 assists and 15 digs. Senior Tabitha Ryan perhaps had her best play especially in serve receive giving the Tigers many opportunities to run an offense. “Ball control is the key to volleyball and tonight was some of our best passing this year. We really need Tabitha to step up like this since we moved her sister Jessica to setting. We know what Naomi can do but with Tabitha and Aubree passing like this, it gives us great confidence in playing anyone. We just have to improve minimizing mistakes.” Coach Spooner said after the nights matches.
Saturday the Tigers face rival Northland International University for the third time this year.