Sports / The Prairie Fire / October 2, 2008

Volleyball splits weekend, shows they belong

Knox volleyball had a productive week, as they headed out to Wisconsin for a couple of games. The women of Knox faced off against Carroll College on Friday before heading over to Ripon for the second leg of their road trip. It was an eventful weekend, and the team came away from it with many lessons, as well an epic victory over the defending conference champions.

Friday looked to be a hard day for the team as they were forced to endure a long bus ride to Waukesha, WI, to face off against Carroll. Going into the match, it was understood that it would not be a cake walk as Carroll holds some talent. The match began badly as Knox dropped the first game 25-16, immediately facing a deficit. From there, the Lady Fire faced an uphill climb, and rose to meet their opponent at their level.

“We’re a slow starting team,” said Coach Kim Schrader. “The team has really good chemistry though, and I was sure we could pull it out.”

The team rebounded wonderfully after the first game, and came back, trouncing Carroll by taking the second game 25-15, and proving their mettle, as well as their worth to be on the same court as those that wound up last year’s champions. The third game was a hard fought battle as Carroll came back from their stunning loss and fought the Fire to the end before eventually falling 25-20, leaving the Fire one game away from a huge upset and a big statement to the rest of the conference.

“We played well, hit the ball well, and controlled it,” said Schrader. “We played scrappy and made good choices.” Seemingly, they were great choices, as Knox headed into the fourth game a step away from their third win of the season.

The fourth game was one where Carroll showed their true colors, mounting a great comeback to take the game, 25-17, forcing a fifth and final set. Knox was out of the game early as Carroll mounted a charge to open, and the Fire were unable to get it going enough to catch up. Thus, the fifth game of the series was forced, as both schools prepared themselves for the decisive battle.

Knox found themselves down at the start, but the coaching of Schrader and great play by the team led them back. When the teams switched sides at the 8th point, Knox found themselves ahead, 8-7, in a nail biter of a game.

“When we switched sides, something changed,” said Schrader. “We were able to come back, and gave a tremendous effort.”

The game ended 15-10 in Knox’s favor, and the Prairie Fire prevailed 3-2, showing that they belonged at the table with the big boys. Or girls.

“It was a win in many ways,” Schrader said. “On paper as well as in our minds. We fought through to earn the win.”

Saturday’s game suffered after the euphoric win over Carroll the night before, and Knox went to Ripon only to get swept out of the building, dropping three straight games. In the second game, Knox made a charge but they faltered late, and gave the game to Ripon, 25-20. After that, it was only a matter of time, and the day ended early for the Fire as Ripon prevailed.

With their record as it stands now, Knox is tied with two other schools. This gives the team a chance to make a run for the finals, as the top four schools in the conference make it in. After this statement win against Carroll, the team is plainly ready to finish the rest of the season strong. With a weekend off before their October 8 meeting at home against Robert Morris College, the team has a chance to make some changes and get some work done.

“We have a little extra time in practice,” said Schrader. “We can add in some little things, work on some stuff that could make us better.”

The upbeat Schrader looks to make her presence felt. After what they accomplished against Carroll, Knox is on its way up in the conference, as well as in the eyes and minds of their opponents.

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