Volleyball breaks five-game winning streak after going 2-0 over the weekend

Halee Heironimus

While the Ashland University volleyball team concluded their home-stretch for the regular season on a good note, they couldn’t keep their winning-streak going on the road.

The Eagles fell in five matches on Tuesday night at Lake Erie (19-25, 28-26, 10-25, 25-20, 15-10).  

AU is now 18-7 overall and 11-3 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Eagles remain tied for with the Findlay Oilers for first place in the GLIAC South.

Junior outside hitters Alli Cudworth and Casey Clark both recorded double-doubles in Tuesday’s match. Cudworth, being her seventh consecutive, had a season-high 28 kills and 20 digs. Clark recorded 13 kills and a season-high 25 digs.

Junior setter Mallory Slyder had a season-high 56 assists to go with 13 digs. Freshman libero Kaitlin Bean and sophomore defensive specialist Melanie Aguayo each recorded 11 digs.

Over the weekend, though, the Eagles were able to defeat the Walsh Cavaliers 3-1 (17-25, 25-17, 25-11, 25-16) on Friday night and the Malone Pioneers 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-14) on Saturday afternoon on their home court.

Prior to Friday’s match, seniors Audrey Metzger, Samantha Zuber, and graduating junior Rylee Scott were honored for their contribution to the program over the past three to four years.

“I really can’t say enough about these three,” said head coach Cass Dixon. “Their character, their play, their work ethic, they’re just great people and it’s been a pleasure to have the opportunity to coach them. They have helped us become what we are as a program and the groundwork they have laid as players will carry on through the tradition of Ashland volleyball.”

The Eagles started out slow in the first set and allowed the Cavaliers to dominate on their home court.

 “We were trying to do too much with the ball,” said Metzger. “Instead we needed to play our game and relax which is what we did for the last three sets.”

The Eagles were able to get back to their style of play in the final three sets. Cudworth and Clark contributed significant statistics for AU, as Cudworth finished with a team-high 16 kills coupled with 10 digs. Clark paced the defense with 20 digs and added eight kills. 

Slyder had 28 assists, while Bean (14) and Aguayo (11) each contributed double-digit digs.

Metzger ended the night with six kills, two digs and three block assists, Zuber collected seven kills and three digs, and Scott had nine kills, two digs and a team-high of six block assists.

“[Audrey, Sam and Rylee] are consistent and they do things over and over that are good,” said Dixon. “Their speed and athletic ability is hard to stop, especially with Sam and Riley in the middle. Audrey does a great job of blocking balls and getting touches so it’s good to see them in their last regular season home game on their own court.”

On Saturday afternoon, the Eagles took a moment to thank their parents for their support during the 2015 season with roses. Afterwards, the team was able to come out quick and maintain a lead against the Pioneers in all three sets.

“We played a lot better against Malone,” said Metzger. “We were more ourselves which enabled us to knock them out in three sets.”

Cudworth collected her 11th double-double of the season and sixth in a row with a team-high 13 kills and 11 digs. Zuber had 11 kills, four block assists and a hitting percentage of .769, making it the third-best percentage for a single match in the program’s history.

“It was refreshing to beat [Malone] in three,” said Zuber. “Especially because we’ve had a lot of five-game matches lately, but came together and won in three which was great.”

Slyder ended the night with 37 assists, and Clark had 11 digs and nine kills.

“The girls were like ‘it’s refreshing’ and it feels good to play how we’re capable of playing from start to finish,” said Dixon. “It was definitely a good weekend for us.”

The Eagles will finish their regular season on the road against four more GLIAC opponents. Taking it one game at a time, they can only hope to continue in the post-season. 

“I think we have a good chance this year,” said Metzger. “Last year was upsetting because we didn’t make it to any of the tournaments so we should make the GLIAC and hopefully make the NCAA where we can make a run there too.”

The Eagles will continue their journey on the road against Tiffin on Friday at 7 p.m.