On Tuesday night, the Knox volleyball team (3-14, 0-1) hosted the Lady Blues of Illinois College in their first Midwest Conference (MWC) match of the season.
And the Prairie Fire lost in four sets: 17-25, 18-25, 25-20 and 22-25.
“I thought we played pretty well,” sophomore Lisa Blagg said. “We just have to work on the little things. Overall, this is our best match yet and I am really proud of our team.”
Sophomore Kelly Ricketts, who attended the University of St. Francis, located in Joliet, Ill., last season, was her normal self in the match versus the Lady Blues.
“Kelly was Kelly — consistent, reliable, solid, good,” volleyball head coach Kim Schrader said. “I felt that the difference was five other people stepped up and played to their potential around her and that gave us more weapons to spread out our attack.
“Unfortunately, we gave away a lot of points in the first two sets on missed serves. They gave away a lot of points on missed serves. I wished we could have capitalized on their mistakes better, early.”
This weekend, the Prairie Fire takes a voyage to Wisconsin to play two MWC matches and one non-conference match.
On Friday, the team plays MWC opponent the Green Knights of St. Norbert College in DePere, Wis., and then takes a trip to Appleton, Wis., to face the Vikings of Lawrence University, another MWC opponent, and the Blugolds of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, who currently have a 14-2 overall record.
“We just need to take the level that we performed at tonight and take the next step. We can sustain everything we did here tonight and reach a little bit higher — we are right in the mix,” said Schrader, about the Wisconsin trip after the Lady Blues match. “The conference right now is wide open. Even though we are halfway through our season, this was our first conference match. We still have opportunities.”
Last weekend, the Prairie Fire took a trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to compete in the Kohawk Invite, a five-team tournament hosted by the Coe College Kohawks and held inside Moray L. Eby Fieldhouse.
The tournament gave Knox the opportunity to come back to Galesburg with a 6-10 record, which would have surpassed last season’s overall record of 4-15.
However, the Prairie Fire left Coe’s campus with a 1-3 record in the tourney and a 3-13 record overall.
“One win is better than not one win,” Schrader said.
In their first match of the evening last Friday, Knox lost to Coe in four sets: 25-22, 13-25, 17-25 and 16-25.
Then, they had to face the Eagles of Faith Baptist Bible College. Knox beat the Eagles in five sets: 24-26, 25-22, 25-15, 16-25 and 15-9 and notched their third win of the season.
“We played Coe really, really well the first match. A little let down at the end,” Schrader said. “We played four pretty hard games and then we played five games. We worked ourselves harder than we probably needed to.”
The Prairie Fire faced the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Pointers in their first match last Saturday and was defeated in four sets by scores of 12-25, 13-25, 25-19 and 9-25.
In their second match of the day, Knox sought revenge on the host team, but they did not get it. The Kohawks won three straight sets: 13-25, 15-25 and 13-25.
“I was proud of the way we played Stevens Point,” Schrader said. “Probably one of the best teams we have played this year and we took them to four sets. We just ran out of gas against Coe the second time.”
For the second time this season, Ricketts, a Galesburg native, was named a member of an All-Tournament Team.
She was named an All-Tournament Team member for her efforts in the Kohawk Invite. In the tournament, she had 73 kills.
Back on Sept. 4 and 5, in the Illinois College Blue Brawl, held in Jacksonville, Ill, she was named an All-Tournament Team member. Ricketts led the team in kills — 51 total, 12.75 per game average — and finished third on the team in digs — 30 total, 7.5 per game average — in the four-game tourney.
Ricketts, who was ranked 13th in kills per game in the NCAA Division III statistics report that was current through Sept. 20, leads the Prairie Fire in kills with 278 and is averaging 4.48 kills per game.