The Faith Eagles volleyball team opened the 2016 season with a stirring 3-2 victory. The Eagles found themselves down 2-0 to the Union College Warriors but battled all the way back to take the match in five sets. Faith was without two starters due to injury, leaving only 8 players available for the match.
Down one set to none Faith started set two slowly falling behind 17-12 and 22-16 eventually losing 25-19. Set three was the Eagles opportunity to show early in the year the character of the team. The Eagles dominated from the beginning gaining a 9-5 and 21-17 lead. Union, determined to end the match, took a 24-23 lead and served for the match win. The Eagles were able to return serve receive and Union was unable to handle the attack, knotting the set at 24-24. Charity Appell was able to land a kill to push the Eagles closer to victory and captain Alyssa Larson with an ace serve gave Faith their first set win. Faith continued putting offensive pressure and gained a set four win 25-20. Defensively the Eagles were led by freshmen Libero Cara Hodak with 21 digs and 3 aces.
"The ladies did a great job of staying with the flow of the match and meeting demands of the match. Despite having two players out with injuries it was thrilling to see the other teammates step up, that will bode well for us in the near future. As a coaching staff we were pleasantly pleased with the effort," noted Nihart. "With very few reps at the setter position Shannon (Steffen) and Charity both ran our 6-2 well."
Faith entered set five with 2 straight wins and the momentum. The Eagles defense began to play stronger and limited Union's opportunities. The Eagles gained 7-2 and 8-4 leads only to have Union close the gap at 11-9. Union committed two consecutive ball handling errors and the Eagles closed the win with kills from Alyssa Larson and Charity Appell who led the Eagles with 9 kills, 13 assists, and 6 serving aces.
"We really did a good job of working with each other and getting cohesive towards the end of the match. The upperclassmen made critical points and the youngsters adapted well. We showed some team chemistry by coming back. Hopefully, that will help us throughout the season", noted coach Nihart.
Faith ends the week hosting the annual Spikefest Tournament. The Eagles will enter pool play against NCCAA national tournament teams Ozark Christian College and Dallas Christian College. "We will need a terrific practice on Thursday to prepare for competition this weekend! At least we are coming off a good win and hope to get back some of our injured players," stated Nihart.