After splitting four matches during the annual Spikefest Tournament this past weekend the Eagles found themselves relishing a 4th place finish. Faith defeated the Grace University Royals in an exciting five set match and lost to Ozark Christian College in three sets.
"It had been a long stretch since we had defeated Grace University so it was good to accomplish the win, "noted coach Nihart. Faith took set one 25-21 and established momentum which carried into an easier set two win at 25-13. Leading 20-19 in the third set and appearing to be headed for a match win the Eagles found trouble. A defensive error and five consecutive ball handling errors provided Grace with the win and opportunity to stay in the match. Grace then followed up with a 25-17 win forcing the 5th and deciding set.
The Eagles started out strong behind the serving of sophomore Kim Post to build a 4-1 lead. Consecutive kills by Julia Rocha and Natalie Bunjer pushed the lead to 6-1. Faith built the lead to 8-2 with the teams switching the courts for the final seven points of the match. The Lady Eagles struggled a little, but quickly regained their composure, capturing leads of 11-7 and 13-8 before winning 15-8. Senior captain Julia Rocha led the Eagles with 21 kills and 3 blocks. Sophomore outside JoJo Hodak added eight kills and 20 digs with setter Knupp providing 49 assists.
The Eagles took their momentum into the 3rd place match against Ozark Christian College who earlier had been eliminated from the championship match by one set. The teams traded volleys in the early part of the match with Ozark taking the set one victory at 25-18. Faith had moments of defensive effort but could not offset the strong middle attack from Ozark. The second set saw Ozark completely dominant at 25-13 and winning the match with a 25-18 third set win. "We will need to determine how we can get to the block especially against strong middle hitting teams like Ozark. We were often late or single blocking and that did not get the job done. Hopefully, we can find the intenseness to block in the coming weeks," cited Nihart.
Faith experienced a season low of 19 kills and two serving aces. The Eagles leading hitter Julia Rocha was held to eight kills and a 6.5% attack percent. Kim Post who played well during the initial weekend of the year added four kills and a season high 12 digs and three blocks. Eagle setter Knupp had a season low 20 assists demonstrating the weak offensive play for the Eagles. "We did okay for opening weekend and like all teams will try to address those areas which need improvement. We can then come out next Tuesday against Union and hopefully find ourselves getting success," remarked Nihart. Sophomore setter Stephanie Knupp was elected to the Spikefest All-Tournament team.