Jacks volleyball hits road for two matches

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

After falling to 0-2 in the Summit League, the Jackrabbit volleyball team will head out to their first two-day league road swing. In heading to and from IPFW (Oct.3) and Oakland (Mich.) on Oct. 4, the Jackrabbits will travel around 2,000 miles. Traveling aside, let’s see how they match up.

The last time the Jackrabbits made a trip to Fort Wayne, Ind., the Jacks were all smiles. The 2007 Jackrabbit team beat host IPFW to win the Summit League tournament championship. You can bet the Mastodons have not forgotten losing on their home court.

While the Mastodons come in with an overall losing record (7-8), this is due to tough competition. Early on, head coach Kelley Hartley Hutton and her team took on tough opponents. IPFW played in-state rivals Notre Dame and Valparaiso in the Notre Dame Shamrock Invitational. The ‘Dons only won one set in three matches. Trips to the Belmont Invite (1-2) and the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational hosted by Missouri State (1-2) also gave IPFW a look at tough competition.

Something the ‘Dons have done is working, as IPFW has won five of its last six matches. At the Hilliard Gates Sports Center, the ‘Dons are a perfect 3-0. IPFW is 3-1 in the league with its only loss coming to pre-season Summit League favorite Oral Roberts. While SDSU relies on youth to step up, the Mastodons are loaded with juniors and seniors.

Offensively, the ‘Dons are led by senior Jessica Miller. Miller has tallied 145 kills and a hitting percentage of .241. Fellow senior Jessica Dominiak has set her teammates up for 411 dishes.

Juniors libero Jamie Schwartz (184 digs) and middle hitter Rebekah Roehm (125 kills, 173 digs) are among those with experience and talent.

Freshman outside hitter Ashley Dillon could give the Jacks a hard time, as she has been a significant contributor. IPFW is 3-0 at home so far.

Oakland University will host SDSU and NDSU this weekend. The Golden Grizzlies sport a 4-10 overall record and are 1-2 in the Summit League.

Oakland earned a much-needed win on the road against UMKC to snap an eight-match losing streak. The Golden Grizzlies coaching staff realized the victory’s importance.

“This was a great win for our team,” said head coach Rob Beam. “It was nice to see that we could maintain a high level of energy and emotion, while executing very well.”

Just like IPFW, Oakland did not shy away from top-tier competition. Among the non-league foes were three bigger state schools. Oakland lost to Michigan (3-0), Michigan State (3-1) and Western Michigan (3-1).

Auburn and Toledo also beat OU 3-1 at the Michigan Pepsi Challenge. The Golden Grizzlies managed to take second place at the Niagara Tournament, beating Scared Heart and host Niagara. OU has not won at home in the early season (0-2).

Adrienne Leone (125 kills) and Stephanie Parkin (112 kills) lead OU. Samantha Filipek (255 assists) and Katy Wilson (199 assists) are a good 1-2 punch dishing the ball.

Defensively, Lauren Duquette has 165 digs while Brittany Dunn has 129. Parkin also has 125 digs.

With Oakland coming after a league victory and the ‘Dons seeking revenge, the Jacks must be ready to bring their ‘A’ game. Jacks will need to start the momentum right with IPFW, as last year’s Summit League championship loss in front of their home crowd will be fresh in IPFW’s mind. If the Jacks cannot communicate nor establish long rallies, then it will be a long two-night affair for the Jackrabbits.