The Knox College women’s volleyball team dropped both games of last weekend’s home stand, falling to Carroll University and Ripon College. But despite the pair of setbacks, the weekend was not void of positives for the squad.
Friday’s match against Carroll marked the return of sophomore setter Nina Mack, who had been out of the starting lineup for the majority of the season with an injury.
“It felt amazing to play again,” Mack said. “At first, I was incredibly nervous because I didn’t want to mess up. But then the butterflies started to turn to excitement, and I was extremely happy to be on the court. Sitting on the sidelines was so hard because I knew I was helpless to them other than encouraging them by cheering them on, but once I stepped on that court all the frustration from being out went away.”
Mack led Knox with 10 assists against the Pioneers, who dominated the first set 25-8, then prevailed in the second and third sets 25-19, 25-18.
Against Ripon the Prairie Fire came closer, but still fell in straight sets. Knox led 12-11 in the first set and was as down just 23-21 after a block by freshman Katie White, but ultimately dropped the set 25-22.
In the second set Knox was down just 18-14, but Ripon rallied to win 25-16. In the third and final set Knox once again held a lead, but could not hold on, ultimately falling 25-21.
Senior Kelly Ricketts and sophomore Kaylie Prince each had eight kills for the Prairie Fire, while Mack’s 10 assists were second only to junior Kristen McDonald’s team high of 12. Senior Lisa Blagg was credited with a match high 15 digs.
For the season Rickets leads the Prairie Fire with 149 kills. Prince is second with 97, while Blagg leads Knox with 228 assists.
According to Mack teamwork and attitude seem to be the missing links holding the Prairie Fire from the win column.
“One of the main factors was miscommunication. We would get a little flustered and this would throw off our game. We have been working hard every day in practice by constantly telling each other to be loud and energetic on the court,” Mack said.
With just four games remaining in the season, Knox is focusing on not giving in.
“The attitude heading into these last two weeks is basically we have nothing to lose but everything to prove,” Mack said. “We have had some solid moments on the court, but we still have yet to put it all together. We know how great we can be and what we can achieve. We are going to give it all we have in these last four games.”
Thursday the team takes on Monmouth at 7 p.m., then have a week off before playing Lake Forest and Beloit on the road.
Play for a Cure Initiative
For both games Knox wore pink warm-up t-shirts to help support breast cancer awareness.
The promotion struck a cord with the team, which kept thoughts of those fighting the disease in their minds while on the court.
“We thought of the people who want to play but do not have the opportunity,” said Prince. “It was inspiring to play for them.”