For the second consecutive Sunday, Tiger Volleyball headed to Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa to play in a four-match "Taco John's Spikefest" event. Also for the second consecutive Sunday, the Tigers left Southeastern with a perfect 4-0 record on the day and won each of the four matches via sweeps.
While the location and number of matches were the same, the Tigers faced only one opponent that they had seen a week prior in the hosting Blackhawks. The Tigers also matched up with Dubuque University JV, St. Ambrose University JV A, and St. Ambrose University JV B.
When asked about playing JV teams over the weekend and throughout the year, Coach Justin Hoskins mentioned some advantages to facing off against JV units of 4-year schools. "I actually really like going up against good JV teams throughout the year" stated Hoskins. "A lot of times, we won't know much about the team or their lineup prior to the match, so it requires us as a team to make adjustments throughout the match which I believe helps us when it comes time to adjust our game-plan against teams that we have scouted more, but they come out playing a little differently than what we expected or they make some adjustments that we have to counter. I also really like getting our players in front of some 4-year coaches. We currently have a few of our alumni playing at 4-year schools where their coaches first noticed them while we were competing against their JV teams. So I think it helps get our student-athletes a little more exposure and gives those coaches an opportunity to see our girls play in person."
The Tigers started their series of matches against Dubuque University JV and controlled the match from start to finish. The Tigers won each set convincingly 25-19, 25-6, 25-19 as freshman middle, Chiara Mottola, led the way for the Tigers at the net. Mottola hit at an impressive .643 clip as she recorded 9 kills on 14 swings with 0 errors. "When we're able to get Chiara rolling, we're going to have a good match", commented Hoskins. "Having a middle as involved as she was against Dubuque is really a testament to our play as a team as in order to get her the ball in a position to score, we had to have a great pass and a well-placed set."
Up next for the Tigers was St. Ambrose JV B. Again, the Tigers came out and controlled the match as they cruised to a 25-12, 25-17, 25-13 sweep. Blocking was key for the Tigers in making quick work of the Bees from St. Ambrose as they recorded five blocks in the match. This time, it was the outsides who carried the load offensively as Sadie Smith and Elena Yee combined for 18 of the Tigers' 32 kills.
The third match of the day for the Tigers was a rematch of last week's match against the host team, Southeastern Community College. While the match again resulted in a sweep for the Tigers, the way the match played out was much different. "Any time you play a team twice in a span of seven days, both teams are going to make a few adjustments and look to exploit some areas after watching film from the first contest.", explained Hoskins. I thought Southeastern did a much better job of handling our pressure from the service line and really made us earn our points in transition and some long rallies." It was in fact those extended rallies where the Tigers separated themselves from Southeastern as the Tigers won the match through superior defense by out digging and out blocking the Blackhawks. Halee Pedro led the Tigers with 21 digs as they picked up the win over the ICCAC foe Blackhawks 25-19, 25-23, 25-20.
The Tigers wrapped up the day with a 25-19, 25-20, 29-27 sweep of St. Ambrose JV 1. The Tigers' play showed a level of fatigue while competing in their fourth consecutive match of the day as they hit a day's worst .143 while committing 16 hitting errors. Hoskins noticed the fatigue showing as well stating, "Our girls were gassed by the end of the day. Playing four matches in one day is tough. Add in a long bus ride starting at 5:30 AM and the exhaustion is understandable. However, I would have liked to have seen them adjust to the fatigue a little bit better. I feel like we really played hesitant at times in our last match of the day and that's something I haven't seen out of this group very often. Hopefully a couple of days off from practice will help refresh the team a little bit as we prepare for the last month of the regular season."
With the 4-0 day, the Tigers are now 23-3 and have surpassed last season's win total of 20. The Tigers return to action on Saturday, October 6th when they travel to North Iowa Area Community College to take on NIACC and Grand View University JV.