Women’s volleyball keeps up hot streak with Championship victory

Emily Thompson

Illinois Wesleyan women’s volleyball hosted the 2021 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin regular season championship game against Carthage College. The Titans brought home victory in three straight sets to celebrate Senior Day. 

 

The Titans crushed the first set against the Firebirds. Senior Madi Corey started strong with back-to-back aces to give IWU an early 9-5 lead. Titans offense made sure the lead stayed put.

 

Corey led offensively, carrying out a team-high six kills and seven assists. Alongside her was fellow seniors Jessica McCall and Courtney McAuliffe with four kills apiece in the first set, leading to a quick 25-18 victory.

 

The Firebirds tried to rise from the ashes in the second set, offering up a 16-12 lead in the beginning. But the Titans weren’t ready to give up the championship title.

 

Corey served the ball up hot, allowing for a eight-point Titan streak.McCall tallied another three kills, followed by another ace duo by Corey. 

 

Sophomore libero Faith Washko took the court alongside the seniors, dishing out a pair of aces to bring the Titans to a 25-19 victory.

 

The Titans took an early 12-6 lead in the third and final set of the match, but the Firebirds finally brought the heat. Carthage took another eight points for themselves, taking a 15-14 lead. Courtesy of Illinois Wesleyan defense, the Firebirds did not get much further. 

 

McAuliffe, accompanied by sophomore Lily Summers, managed to force a Carthage timeout with a block and a reclamation of the 19-18 lead. 

 

Carthage evened the score one more time at 22-all before the Titans stole six additional points and the championship title with a final score of 28-26.

 

The senior trio of McAuliffe, McCall and Corey led the Titans with 13, ten and nine kills, respectively. Senior Dana Kizkowski added an additional eight kills to the board. Corey also contributed 20 assists and 11 digs in her second triple-double of the season.

 

The Titans prepared vigorously for this victory when they hosted the Holiday Inn Express Classic III from October 22-23. During the weekend tournament, the Titans toppled Augustana (3-0) on the first night before a sweep against Alma College (3-0) and a loss to UW-Stevens Point (0-3). 

 

The Titans began the tournament with a straight sweep against the Augustana Vikings with sets of 25-11, 26-24 and 25-21. 

 

Early into the first set, IWU was down 3-2. Senior Jessica McCall led a swift recovery with two aces. Sophomore Lily Summers and senior Courtney McAuliffe aided the nine-point recovery, bringing the score to 11-3. 

 

The Titans kept up the hot streak offensively, ending the set with a 25-11 victory. 

 

The Vikings entered the second set ready to make up for the first, tallying a quick 13-3 lead. But, the Titans bounced back by pulling out another nine-point run to bring the score to 13-12. 

 

The second set brought a series of nail-biting lead tradeoffs. One came when the Titans found themselves down by one at 19-18. An additional point, courtesy of senior Dana Kizkowski assisted by senior Madi Corey, brought the set to 19-19. 

 

The back-and-forth ended with another set victory by Illinois Wesleyan, who tallied up another four points and ended 28-26. 

 

The final set was a close matchup once again before freshman Ava Porada broke a 7-7 tie with back-to-back aces. Senior Amber Juarez also pulled out a duo of aces as the Vikings neared another tie, landing the Titans at a steady 14-11 lead. 

 

The Titans kept their lead alive for the remainder of the set, leading to a strong final kill by McAuliffe that ended the game 25-21. 

 

Sophomore Faith Washko led defense in the first night of tournament play with nine digs, while McCall and McAuliffe hit double-digit kills. Summers and Babec followed with seven and six kills, respectively. 

 

The next day, the Titans concluded the tournament with a double-header against Alma and UW-Stevens Point. The Alma College Scots fell to another IWU sweep, while the Stevens Point Pointers dropped the Titans. 

 

The Titans managed a quick 11-5 lead in the first set against the Scots who never recovered the lost points. Kizkowski slammed a set-winning kill to bring home a 25-14 win. 

 

The second set followed suit with an early 12-4 Titan advantage. Led once again by Summers, McCall, McAuliffe and Babec, Illinois Wesleyan ended 25-11. 

 

Alma proved to be more formidable by the third and final set, taking an early 7-5 lead. But, the Scots lost their footing after a seven-point streak by the Titans including three service aces from Washko and a kill by Kizkowski. 

 

The third match ended after a series of lead tradeoffs with a 25-15 win to close out the clean sweep by IWU. 

 

Against UWSP, IWU took their first hard loss of the tournament. The Pointers cleaned out the Titans with a three-set sweep of 25-20, 25-22 and 25-13. 

 

Offensively, McAuliffe led the match with nine total kills over three sets, followed by McCall and Kizkowski with five apiece. Washko held back the Pointers with 14 digs and two aces.

 

Despite strong offensive attacks by the Titans, Pointer defense proved impassable as they kept Wesleyan at a .071 attacking percentage. 

 

After the Holiday Inn Express Classic III split and victory in the CCIW Conference Championship victory, the women’s volleyball team will host the CCIW Semifinal match on Thursday, November 4.