The Oglethorpe volleyball team celebrated Senior Day in style Sunday afternoon in Dorough Field House, taking the opening set and the final two for a 3-1 victory over the visiting Centre Colonels. The win improved the Stormy Petrels to 4-18 on the season overall and 2-12 in SAA play, and ensured that setter Jordan Jones and middle hitter Kaitlyn Woodruff got a victory on their Senior Day.
The Petrels began the match in outstanding fashion, dominating the first set against the visiting Colonels. After jumping to a 5-2 lead early on, the Petrels extended that with a 6-1 run to take a 12-6 lead. After back-to-back points from Centre, Oglethorpe responded again with a 5-0 stretch to advance their lead to 17-8. From there, the two teams traded points for the remainder of the set, which suited the Petrels just fine. They gained set point at 24-14, and finished it off with a kill from freshman outside hitter Jacoby Sims to take the opening set 25-17.
The Colonels responded in the second set. They slowly pushed their way to a five-point lead early in the frame, then went on a four-point run to take a 21-14 lead in the set. Overall, they finished the stanza on an 8-2 run and took it 25-16.
With the match tied 1-1, the Petrels got off to a quick start in the third set, jumping out to a 4-0 edge. A 6-2 stretch from Centre allowed them to tie the set, 6-6, but Oglethorpe immediately answered back, reeling off an 11-4 stretch to bounce out to a 19-12 advantage. The Colonels closed out to a four-point margin, but the Petrels wouldn't be denied. They outscored the visitors 5-2 to end the set and took it, 25-18.
Looking to close out the match, the Petrels got off to a good start in the fourth set. After an even first few points, the Petrels took control, going on a 7-1 run to build a 10-5 advantage. A three-point run by Centre brought them to within a couple points, 16-14, but they would get no closer than that. With the Petrels leading 21-19, they finished off consecutive points to push their lead to 23-19. Back-to-back points from Centre made the score 23-21, but the Petrels earned match point at 24-21, then finished it off with a kill from Sims off an assist from freshman setter Malisa Reichard, clinching the 25-22 fourth-set win.
Sims led the Petrels on the day with 17 kills and contributed 9 digs and 5 service aces, as well. Junior outside hitter Santreece Stephens added 11 kills, while junior middle hitter Ashlee Tolbert and junior right-side hitter Evan Furst both hit over .300 with no attack errors. Jones finished with 34 assists and 12 digs on her Senior Day, while sophomore libero Taryn North finished with a match-high 24 digs. Reichard finished with 17 digs, while sophomore defensive specialist Alex Prots contributed 11. Woodruff had a solid Senior Day, as well, collecting five kills, two digs and two blocks.
"I thought we played very well today overall," said Oglethorpe head coach Joseph Goodson, "perhaps our best match of the season, so far. We hit well, we passed well, and we played solid defense. I was very happy to get a win on Senior Day for our seniors, Jordan and Kaitlyn. It's always nice to honor your seniors with a win on their special day. We've got a couple more matches this year to get ready for the SAA Tournament, and that's our focus over this next week."
The Petrels will take on Huntingdon Monday night at 7 p.m. Eastern from Montgomery, Alabama, then will travel to Tennessee to battle Maryville Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. After that, they'll get set for the SAA Tournament quarterfinals. This year's tournament will be hosted by Berry and will take place Nov. 3 through 5. The No. 8 seed Petrels will take on the top-seeded Vikings on Friday, Nov. 3, in the quarterfinals.