Wade Steinlage, Sports Information Director
CEDAR RAPIDS – The Statesmen women’s volleyball team returned to Heart of America Athletic Conference Action Tuesday as they took on the Mount Mercy Mustangs.
William Penn (10-4, Heart 1-1) edged Mount Mercy (11-3, Heart 1-1) in four sets (20-25, 25-15, 27-25, 25-19) to earn their first Heart victory of the season and first under Head Coach Aleesha Cleaver.
The Statesmen dropped the first set having committed nine errors in the set but were able to make the necessary adjustments to win the next three sets on the way to victory.
Set two was the team’s most efficient set posting a .323 hit percentage leading to a 25-15 win.
The third set however, proved to be the most critical for WPU as they had to fight off set point three times and eventually took the set 27-25.
“We showed major mental toughness especially in the (third) set where we had to fight off match point multiple times,” Coach Cleaver said. “That was a huge momentum swing for us.”
In the fourth, the navy and gold quickly took control jumping out to a 11-3 lead. Despite a run by the Mustangs to get the set as close as three (22-19), the visitors were able to rally off three straight points to win the set 25-19 and the match.
The Statesmen in the match outhit the Mustangs by a slight margin .135-.121. Four hitters led the way for WPU each tallying at least 10 kills. Nashali Cruz (So., Bayamon, P.R., Biology) and Corrin Lepper (Fr., Jefferson City, Mo., Exercise Science) posted team-highs with 12 kills each. Jordan Carter (Sr., Sigourney, Iowa, Elementary Education) andDanielle Pendzinski (Jr., Winnebago, Ill., Elementary Education) both broke double-digits with 10 apiece.
Setting the ball was a strength for William Penn all match with two setters reaching the 20-assist mark. Elena Lucero (Fr., Yuba City, Calif., Political Science) posted 29 assists, her season-high, while Haley Smith (Sr., Adrian, Mich., Elementary Education) assisted on 20 kills.
Ashley Miller (Sr., Kalona, Iowa, Exercise Science) continued to prove she is one of the best Libero’s in the Heart posting a career-high 44 digs. The digs were the fifth most for a Statesmen player all-time in a single game. Haley Vampran (Sr., Fort Worth, Texas, Exercise Science) and Belle Potter (Sr., Spokane, Wash., Undecided) also provided solid defense for WPU posting 18 and 14 digs respectively.
Coach Cleaver said this was a big win or the team looking ahead adding, “This game was a major confidence boost for the team and I think we need to use that going forward in our match against Grand View on Friday.”
Next up: The Statesmen will head into hostile territory as the ladies will face-off against the rival Grand View in Des Moines in Heart action beginning at 7:30 p.m.