Volleyball’s rocky season ending strong

Vic McDowell, The Circuit

Benedictine’s struggling season featured a bright spot as the Lady Ravens swept the Stephens College tournament.

Benedictine has won four of their last six games while combating this season’s shortcomings.

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Junior Megan Ruzicka goes for the kill following a feed from sophomore Taylor Gardner. Photo by Ashley Chandler.

After a home loss to MidAmerica, the team needed to regroup for the tournament at Stephens College.

The Lady Ravens responded, winning all three games during the tournament.

“We felt we were the most disciplined there, and it felt great,” said Erin Cooper, head coach of the Lady Ravens (9-16, 0-8 Heart).

The wins did not come easily. Each of Benedictine’s first two victories came in five sets.

Johnson & Wales University gave the group as much as they could handle. The first two sets took more than 25 points to decide a victor. The Wildcats would split with the Lady Ravens, winning set one 30-28 and dropping set two 26-24.

The Wildcats took game three before the Lady Ravens took the final two sets for the win.

Tournament host Stephens College pushed the match five sets, similar to the Lady Raven’s previous match.

Stephens went wire-to-wire, finishing with a decisive 13-point win in the first set.

The Lady Ravens answered by leading the entirety of set two thanks, in part, to senior Ali Dalton. She had 18 kills in the match including the set winner to make it 25-19. The Mustangs countered with a hard-fought 25-23 win during a set where three lead changes took place.

Benedictine mirrored its performance against Johnson & Wales, and took care of business during the next two sets. The Lady Ravens won 3-2.

The final day brought few challenges Benedictine’s way.

Central Christian College was overmatched as they committed 26 errors during a straight sets loss to Benedictine.

Cooper shared her thoughts on the Lady Ravens finishing the season firmly.

“Just staying on track, and taking one game at a time to finish the season strong. We have nothing to lose,” Cooper said.

It was a group effort during the Stephens College tournament, but Dalton provided an offensive boost. Dalton amassed 37 kills in three games, while juniors Megan Ruzika and Camila Araujo added 31 and 27 repectively.

“We came in with the expectation to be undefeated during the tournament,“ Dalton said. “We had a lot of confidence and it did not slip away. If someone messed up they did not let it affect their play, and everyone who came in was just as good, so it was a team effort.”

After a confidence building weekend, production wise, the Lady Ravens faced William Woods University. BC lost to the Owls earlier this season in straight sets.

It would not be as smooth for WWU, but the end result was the same as their previous meeting.

The Owls fumbled one set on their way to a 3-1 win.

Overall, this stretch has shown this group has improved and can respond to turmoil. This entire season has been filled with unrest, but Benedictine has stayed the course.

Cooper feels these last few games still hold value.

“We are sticking to the game plan. Even though we cannot accomplish our goals it does not make conference meaningless. Ultimately, we are taking it one step at a time, and we are a better team now then the beginning of the season.”

The Lady Ravens take on Culver-Stockton at 5 p.m. on senior night Oct. 23.