Langston Hood, Senior Sports Writer
The Wooster volleyball team took a much-needed vacation from the hallowed corn fields of Ohio to venture all the way to Atlanta, Georgia for a four-team tournament hosted by nationally-ranked Emory University. Wooster met Averett University of Virginia, St. Mary’s College of Indiana and Emory over the course of the two-day tournament, looking to build off their momentum following their demolition of the rebranded Kenyon Owls on Wednesday, Oct. 19. Once the Fighting Scots landed in Atlanta on Thursday night, they were rearing and ready to go.
Wooster met the Averett Cougars in their first game, which was a highly-contested battle. The Fighting Scots were struck by a bit of jetlag in the first set of Saturday’s game as they were defeated 25-21. Extra points were needed to determine the winners of the next two sets, both of which were closely contested. Wooster won the second set 28-26 before Averett responded with their own 27-25 victory in the third set. With the match on the line, Wooster stepped up and took the fourth set 25-22, forcing a fifth set that would determine the match’s winner. The beginning of the defining set followed the sport’s natural back and forth pattern, as the two teams were tied 8-8 after an Averett score. However, that would prove to be the Cougars’ last point of the match, as Sydney Fitzcharles ’23 grabbed four service errors and Hayley Nash ’23 notched two kills to put the Cougars out for good. Nash registered a game-high 17 kills, while Amelia Mitchell ’25 added 14 kills of her own while being a defensive stalwart and posting a game-high seven blocks.
There would be no rest for the Scots as they next faced the Belles of Saint Mary’s, who were badly beaten in their first match of the day. This seemed to fuel the Belles, as they took set one from the Fighting Scots by a score of 25-23. Wooster took that personally and came out with a vengeance in the second set of the match. The set came to a 4-4 tie before Wooster scored nine consecutive points thanks to a flurry of Nash service aces, a kill from Emily Gail ’23 and a handful of errors from the Belles. Wooster would allow the Belles just four more points on their way to winning the set by a score of 25-9. The next two sets would prove to be far more contentious, but Wooster won both by scores of 25-20 and 25-22, respectively. It was a collective effort from the Scots’ hitters as Caroline Dillard ’24, Gail, Mitchell and Nash all tallied at least seven kills. Tyara Thompson ’24 fed the attackers all day long, tallying 32 assists through game two of the double header. Saturday allowed the Fighting Scots to settle nicely into Woodruff Stadium before they met the 11th ranked Emory Eagles.
Sunday’s first set offered very little to cheer about, as the Eagles proved why they deserved to be ranked among the nation’s best. Emory jumped out to a 7-1 lead, which they quickly expanded to 14-3, as kills from Gail, Dillard and Tamara Turner ’25 could not derail the Eagles. The set ended 25-6, with the Eagles putting on a flawless display by committing zero errors and converting their 19 total attempts into 15 kills. Wooster competed in the following set, knotting the second set at six, before Emory claimed a commanding 14-8 lead, winning the set by a score of 25-19. The third set resembled the first as Emory notched 10 straight points after the game was tied 1-1, taking an 11-1 lead that forced the Scots to use two timeouts. Wooster did not go quietly, bringing the score back to a respectable 13-7 thanks to errors from Emory and kills from Gail and Thompson, but Emory would prove too much, winning the third set 25-21.
Both Gail and Nash were grateful for the challenge that Emory posed. Gail said, “Emory was the best team we have faced all season and in the second and third sets we really fought back and played great volleyball against them, which gave us momentum we hope to carry into our final few games and the postseason.” Nash echoed Gail, saying, “we knew as a team that we had to rise to their level to compete with them” and that, “although we started a little slow in the first set, we held our own in the second and third set to prove that we can play with them if we all work together and work hard.”
Fitzcharles agreed with her teammates, noting that one of the biggest challenges in this match was Emory’s offensive speed. As a result, “our blockers have to read their setters quicker and the defense has to adjust to their hitters.” In the face of this challenge, Fitzcharles felt that “we rose to the challenge that this posed and saw that we could play with teams like this.”
All in all, last week was one the Scots will remember as it played host to three straight victories and a competitive match against a true volleyball powerhouse. Additionally, trading the dreary Ohio fall for the warmth of Atlanta is something that just about any fall sports team would gladly accept.
The Scots will travel to Cleveland for their final match of the regular season against Case Western Reserve University on Saturday, Oct. 29. Good luck to Wooster as they wrap up the regular season and prepare for the postseason!