The St. Thomas women’s volleyball team improved its winning streak to 14 games as it defeated the Hamline Pipers on the Tommies’ Senior Appreciation Night Wednesday at Schoenecker Arena.
The No. 11 Tommies, currently in a three-way tie for the top spot in the MIAC, relied on their defense and senior leadership from middle blocker Taylor Cross and setter Ashley Maher to put away the Pipers in three games.
While Hamline’s record (9-17 overall, 1-9 in the MIAC) is less than stellar, Cross said she and her teammates never overlook their opponent based on their previous games.
“We take conference games one at a time,” she said.
St. Thomas came out strong in the first game. Maher highlighted the first game with key assists and defensive dives for the ball that denied Hamline scores. The Tommies went on to win 25-12.
Some new players got court action in the second game. Maher was happy to see girls get playing time that normally don’t get any.
“It’s exciting to see the younger girls get to play in a conference game,” Maher said. “They work so hard in practice, and it’s great to see them out there hustling.”
The fresh Tommie players were hustling, but the Pipers took advantage of their inexperience. Hamline won long rallies and scored seven unanswered points to fight back to a 24-15 deficit. However, the Tommies were able to stop the Pipers’ streak and win the second game 25-15.
While the team struggled at the end of the second game, Maher said all of her teammates have confidence in each other to step up in big matches.
“As long as everyone works hard, it shouldn’t matter who is in,” she said.
Freshman outside hitter Jill Greenfield scored the first point for the Tommies in the third game and went on to win 25-15.
Greenfield led the team with 12 kills against Hamline. Maher had 20 assists in the three games, and junior defensive specialist Kaitlain Wachter led the team with 25 digs.
This game was the first of two big matches for the Tommies. If they defeat Bethel on Saturday, the Tommies will secure a share of the conference title. It would be the team’s eighth championship in the last 10 years.
St. Thomas would also be closer to clinching a top-two seed and first round bye by winning on Saturday. The team secured a MIAC playoff berth when it defeated Augsburg Sunday, Oct. 23.
The Tommies expect Saturday’s match to be hard-fought and intense.
“Saturday will be a tough match. They’re a good team, and they fight and take it to us every time,” Maher said.
“Bethel’s going to give us its best,” Cross said. “But we’re ready for them.”
Hayley Schnell can be reached at email@example.com.