Early winning streak cut short

Written By Dara Collins, Co-Sports Editor

The volleyball team traveled to Ohio last weekend for the Emileigh Cooper Memorial Tournament hosted by the University of Rio Grande.

Entering the tournament on a four-game winning streak, a rocky first few matches set the Pioneers back in regular season standings.

Point Park opened up against Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU) for the first of two matches Friday. The Pioneers dropped set one 18-25 but came back to win set two 25-21, tying the match. The victory bounced back to the Cougars as they took set three 25-17. Point Park was two points away from forcing a fourth set when MVNU took control to win 27-25.

MVNU totaled 59 kills while Point Park followed close behind with 55. Ashley Taylor and Erica Gumz collectively claimed over half of the Pioneers’ kills with 21 and 16 kills. Setter Julia Menosky recorded the team high of 17 digs and 45 assists.

“I think the hitters did a really good job adjusting to my sets,” Menosky said.

The team played a second match against Marian University, which received votes in the national preseason coaches’ poll. The Knights stole sets one and two, 25-14 and 25-16. The Pioneers fought back to take set three 25-23. The comeback was short-lived as Marian finished victorious in the fourth set with a score of 25-23.

Although Point Park totaled 143 attacks to Marian’s 134, the Pioneers trailed in kills. Meg Reineke led the Pioneers offense in this match with 14 kills, and Taylor followed with 12. In terms of defense, Taylor finished the match with the team-high of 17 digs and Reineke followed with 15.

A second pair of matches followed on Saturday.

The Pioneers began day two with an early match against the University of Northwestern Ohio. The Racers took set one 25-16 due to Point Park’s struggling serve receive. Point Park trailed by five points in set two before making a comeback to win 27-25 and carried the momentum to win set three 25-23. The Racers 25-20 victory in set four kept the match alive to force a fifth set. Northwestern Ohio’s team proved victorious as it closed out set five 15-10.

Taylor led the team in kills with 18 and digs with 16. Menosky had 39 assists and 12 digs.

After three straight losses, the Pioneers needed to change their game.

“We need to come out strong right from the beginning,” Taylor said. “We can’t play lackadaisical when we first come out onto the court. We need to assert our presence right off the bat so people know who we are.”

Menosky furthered Taylor’s game plan for future matches.

“We definitely need to work on being more consistent, just forgetting about the mistakes we make and moving on,” Menosky said. “We need to focus on being more aggressive from the start coming out ready to play.”

The Pioneers finished the tournament on an upswing.

Point Park only needed three sets to seal a 3-0 victory over Shawnee State University. The Pioneers swept the Bears 25-12, 25-19 and 25-17.

Taylor once again held the team-high with 13 kills while Savannah Dishman also climbed to double digits with 10 kills. Libero Morgan Dangelo picked up 14 digs, and Menosky recorded 39 assists.

“We all came together when the games were tight and close, and we all fought back and really worked as a team and communicated,” Reineke said. “Not that the outcome was what we wanted, but we learned from each game.”

With an improved record of 5-4, the Pioneers return to the road this weekend for another tournament hosted by Shawnee State University (Ohio).