DES MOINES, Iowa – Facing three nationally ranked opponents
in the first four matches of the season, no one can accuse Olivet Nazarene
University volleyball coach Brenda Williams of not challenging her team. The
Tigers opened the 2014 season at the Grand View University Tournament on August
22-23, taking on No. 9 Northwestern College (Iowa), No. 12 Columbia University
(Mo.) and No. 20 Indiana Wesleyan University.
The Tigers (1-3) finished the opening weekend with a 3-1 win
over rival Indiana Wesleyan, 19-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-18. The win was a culmination
of a weekend of tweaking the lineup, fighting through opening year jitters and getting
back into a rhythm. This was the Tiger’s
first win over a ranked opponent for several years.
“Like many teams at the beginning of the season, we juggled
the lineup and looked at many different options”, said Williams. “We saw some
major improvement over the course of the weekend and defeating Indiana Wesleyan
was just icing on the cake.”
Olivet opened the weekend with a 0-3 loss to Northwestern, 17-25,
22-25, 12-25. The Tigers stuggled offensively, finishing with just 19 kills in
81 attempts with 23 errors. Junior Becky DeRuiter (Chicago Heights, Ill.) led
the team with seven kills and four blocks, while junior Renee Enz (Wilmington,
Ill.) dished out 10 assists. Senior libero Haley Hatalla (Manteno, Ill.) and
freshman Jeslyn Roat (Greenville, Ill.) each added six digs.
With minimal time to rest, the Tigers came out strong
against Columbia, winning the opening set 25-21 before dropping the close ones
18-25, 18-25, 21-25. With the opening game jitters out of the way, the Tigers
finished with 39 kills in 110 attempts with 20 errors. They also added 10
service aces. DeRuiter again led the Tigers on the attack with 10 kills, while
seniors Kaia Lenzi (Beach Park, Ill.) and Heidi Schoenbein (Morton, Ill.) each
added seven. Lenzi also led with three blocks. Enz finished with 28 assists,
while Hatalla added 13 digs. Junior Melissa Bartholomew (Newton, Iowa) led with
five service aces.
The Tigers suffered their most lopsided defeat to Carroll
College (Mont.), falling 13-25, 17-25, 19-25. Senior Tiffany Madura (Munster,
Ind.) led the offense with nine kills in 13 attempts with just one error
(.615), while adding two blocks. Lenzi added seven kills with two errors in 14
attempts (.357) and two blocks. Enz finished with 13 assists, while sophomore
Katie Tabisz (Lockport, Ill.) added nine. Hatalla ended with 10 of the teams 31
In the tournament finale with Indiana Wesleyan, the Tigers
finished with 49 kills, led by DeRuiter with 13 and Schoenbein with 12. Madura,
Lenzi and Tabisz were walls at the net, combining for 16 of the team’s 24
blocks. Madura finished with six, while Lenzi and Tabisz added five each. Enz
added 28 assists and Tabisz 10, while Roat added three service aces.
DeRuiter was named to the All-Tournament Team for her effort
over the weekend. She finished with 32 kills with 21 errors in 89 attempts
(.124). She added 10 blocks and 13 assists.
Olivet will travel to Concordia University-Irvine (Calif.)
for the Asics/Labor Day Classic. Things don’t get any easier for the Tigers as
they will face No. 2 Biola University (Calif.) and No. 3 Concordia-Irvine in
two of their four matches. They will also take on Carroll again and Menlo
University (Calif.). Olivet takes the court first on Friday against Carroll and
Concordia, then Saturday against Menlo and Biola.