Pictured: Constance Connolly (C’20). Photo courtesy of sewaneetigers.com.
By Claire Crow
After coming off of a thrilling five-set victory against no. 24 Illinois Wesleyan on September 6, the Sewanee volleyball team maintained a stellar performance at the Sewanee Invitational September 13-14. Between clenching the tournament title, winning all four games, and sweeping Centre in the first conference match of the season, the next two months look promising for the Tigers.
In the home opener against Centre, Sewanee finished with a .286 hitting percentage led by Lilly Reilly (C’22), who scored 16 kills and contributed 5 service aces in the match. Captain Destiny Stewart (C’21) lead the defense with 10 digs.
Constance Connolly (C’20), another captain for the team, feels that their strong performance against Centre was no accident, saying, “I think we made a statement about what our goal is as a team with our conference match. By winning our match in three sets right off the bat, I think it shows that we are here to take care of business whenever we need to.”
Even after an exciting win against Centre, the Tigers seemed fresh as ever against LaGrange later that evening, winning in 3 sets 25-18, 25-14, and 25-16. Junior Olivia Nichols (C’21) added 7 kills with an impressive .500 hitting percentage, along with 8 digs. During this match, the team utilized multiple different rotations of players, all proving to be successful.
Additionally, head coach Nancy Mueller-Culver secured her 200th career victory. She has 10 seasons at the Division 1 level under her belt and is in the heat of her second season with the Tigers.
During day 2 of the tournament, Sewanee swept against Mississippi University for Women. Connolly had 25 assists and 9 digs, while captain Macy Gardella (C’20) had 7 kills. Freshman Gray Shiverick (C’23) also added 6 kills to the match.
In the fourth and final match of the weekend, the Tigers came out strong against Agnes Scott. Finishing with a .269 hitting percentage and a collective 36 digs, the team swept the Scotties 25-14, 25-17, and 25-15.
Looking forward to the rest of the season, Connolly said, “I cannot wait to see what the conference and region will be thinking of us in a couple of weeks. At the same time, our team is such a supportive family of one another. We have truly formed a relationship that is cohesive to upsetting the conference. There is such great chemistry on and off the court, and that can take a team a long way.”