On Friday afternoon, the Alma College Volleyball team opened up their season with two games in the Otterbein/Capital Tournament. In the opener, the Scots took on a perennial upper echelon program in Otterbein and Alma won a thrilling five set match 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 26-28, 25-9 and 15-11).
In the second, the Scots played Case Western Reserve and jumped out to a 2-0 advantage. However, Case fought back to tie it and the Scots needed to pull out a 15-9 decision in the fifth set to clinch another 3-2 margin of victory.
"It was a great day overall for the team not just because of the 2-0 start," said Alma Head Coach Sarah Dehring. "Winning two five set matches really tests a team mentally and physically, especially when they are back to back. We let up a little bit in the Case match but we dug deep and came together to get the win. Our bench did a great job creating energy for the girls on the court. Both wins were total team victories."
Alma is now 2-0 on the season and will take on host Capital University (OH) and Baldwin Wallace University tomorrow in the second day of the tournament. Match times are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and Noon.
Against Otterbein, the match went back and forth as the hosts won the first and third sets and the Scots took care of the second and fourth. The first three were decided by two points a piece before Alma got the upper hand in the fourth set.
The fifth and deciding set was also back and forth as it was tied 11-11 until the Scots reeled off four points in a row for the dramatic five-set match victory.
"Otterbein is a great team and they run a fast offense and have great ball control," remarked Dehring. "We did a nice job of taking care of our side of the ball. We can't with the power game with a team like Otterbein, but if we stay true to our strengths, we will come out on top. Which we did."
Statistically in the Otterbein match, So. OH/DS Sasha Laykova (Ternopil, Ukraine/Forest Hills Northern) led the team with 17 kills and added 15 digs and three service aces. Jr. OH/DS Hannah Guilford (Hartland/Hartland) had a team-high 17 digs to go along with 16 kills and four service aces.
Jr. OH/DS Laura Walker (Roscommon/Roscommon) had four service aces and eight digs, while So. S Mary Dulzo (Novi/Mercy) paced the squad with 35 assists and added eight digs. Sr. OH Kayla Muxlow (Brown City/Brown City) and Fr. RS/S Dakota Pelach (Gaylord/Gaylord) each had two blocked shots and Pelach added 10 kills.
In the second match of the night, right after the marathon first one, Alma won by an identical score of 3-2 (25-16, 25-19, 23-25, 22-25 and 15-9). Dulzo had 55 assists and eight digs for the Scots, while Laykova contributed 16 digs, 14 kills and three service aces.
"Case Western was an extremely scrappy team," concluded Dehring. "We could not expect our first swing to go down and we had to continually switch up what we were throwing at them."
Guilford finished the match with 19 kills and 16 digs and So. OH/MH Maggie Miller (Frankfort/Frankfort) had 15 kills. Walker added nine digs, while Pelach had seven kills and four digs.