IWU volleyball falls after eight game streak

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Maggie Krause, Staff Writer

 

Despite its loss to unranked Augustana on Tuesday, Sept. 22, Illinois Wesleyan University’s volleyball team has achieved an honor no IWU volleyball team has before: a national ranking.

With a record of 10-3, the Titans are ranked No. 23 in the Sept. 22 American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

The team’s national ranking comes after a hard-earned eight-game winning streak, which ended at the hands of the Augustana Vikings.

The Titan players weren’t done making history. Senior Mary Rankin, a one-year letter winner who transferred to IWU after two seasons at Kankakee Community College, logged 44 digs. This mark beat the previous record of 40, which she herself had set vs. Ohio Northern on Friday Sept. 11, 2015.

Coming off their momentous winning streak, the Titans looked to triumph over the Augustana in their season opener of the CCIW, especially after a tough loss to the Vikings last season.

To do this, the IWU team hoped to feed off the energy of the raucous and energetic crowd.

Advertisement for the game was widespread on campus and online, and it showed. Over 200 fans filed into the Shirk center to cheer their team on, making for a loud and exciting set of matches.

After falling behind in the first set with a score of 25-19, the Titans recovered quickly to win the second and third sets, both with a score of 25-21.  The fourth set of the game began with Wesleyan at an advantage, which continued throughout the set with the Titans leading the Vikings by as many as six points.

Despite IWU’s early lead, Augustana managed to tie and later win the fourth set 27-25.  In a climactic fifth set, Augustana edged out the Titans by a score of 15-8, and an overall match score of 3-2.

Senior Mary Rankin and sophomore Kyleigh Block proved yet again to be crucial assets to the Wesleyan women’s volleyball team.  Rankin set a personal and school record with 44 digs, while Block led the team with 23 kills.  Junior Colleen Rynne racked up 33 assists, and first-year Heidi Dague helped defend the Titans with four blocks.

The Vikings improved their record to 7-4, and gained their first CCIW win of the season, while Wesleyan fell to 10-3.

Despite the tough loss, the IWU team is proud of the work they’ve put in and the history they’ve made. For the first time in the program’s history, they’ve found themselves nationally ranked.

All of this, and the season is still very young.