Wade Steinlage, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
LAMONI – The William Penn women’s volleyball team concluded its Heart of America Athletic Conference regular season with a matchup against the Graceland Yellowjackets.
The Statesmen ended their year strong, taking victory in four sets of 25-21, 24-26, 25-15, and 25-23.
The match started off rather meekly with the score tied 6-6. Through the first 12 points, each team had totaled more attacking errors than kills. The visitors had a remarkable turn in efficiency, however, and take the opening set. After beginning the match with four kills and four errors, the Statesmen had nine winners compared to only one mistake the rest of the way, good for a first-set hitting percentage of .242. The host Yellowjackets, meanwhile, only hit .093. As has become customary, the attack was led by Peyton Foster (Jr., Graham, Wash., Business Management) and Kianna Childers (Sr., Copperas Cove, Texas, Psychology), both of whom totaled three kills in the opening set.
The navy and gold attack regressed from their first-set success, hitting in the negatives for the set with only six kills against seven errors. A late comeback attempt ultimately fell short as Graceland evened the match 1-1. Childers tallied four more kills, while Asarar Gony (Sr., Omaha, Neb., Political Science) had four finishers as well.
Determined to gain an advantage, the Statesmen doubled up on the Yellowjackets 10-5 to begin the third set. It was not due to a stark increase in attacking efficiency, but rather a stark decrease in efficiency for Graceland. Although WPU only hit .074 for the set, nine attacking errors for the opposition contributed to put the Statesmen ahead 2-1 for the match.
The fourth set proved to be a back-and-forth affair in which the Statesmen were unable to pull away, but still took the conclusive victory. The navy and gold increased their hitting percentage to .146, while holding their opponents to .073 in the finale.
Childers led the way with 15 kills Thursday, but it was Foster who led the team in hitting percentage among players with at least 10 attempts. Foster would total 12 kills while hitting .308 for the night.
Makaila Winward (Fr., St. Louis Park, Minn., Psychology) was the primary setter once again, totaling 29 of the team’s 34 assists. She also added a mistake-free four kills on only eight attempts.
Cameryn Campbell (Sr., Jefferson City, Mo., Elementary Education) led the back row with 26 digs, while Tori Martin (Fr., Jefferson City, Mo., Elementary Education) was also heavily involved with 10 digs.
“I didn’t think tonight was our best night of volleyball, but I did think we had a handful of girls really step up,” head coach Aleesha Cleaver said. “I thought our back row played a heck of a game, and that was what really put us over the top.”
The Statesmen will compete in a triangular on Friday in Atchison, Kan. to conclude their regular season. They will match up against the host Benedictine Ravens as well as the Columbia Cougars.