IW drops SLIAC opener to Webster

Union photo by Andy Krutsinger

Ariel Smale leaves her feet to set the ball during the second set on Thursday night.
Union photo by Andy Krutsinger Ariel Smale leaves her feet to set the ball during the second set on Thursday night.

The Iowa Wesleyan volleyball team had their hands full on Thursday night, hosting SLIAC co-favorite Webster in their first conference game of the year. The Tigers lead midway through the first set, but Webster scored a comeback win in the first and parlayed that into a sweep, defeating the Tigers 25-23, 25-19, 25-21.

The two teams traded blows in the first set, and most of the shots from IW came from Lida Landre. She came out of the gates on fire, connecting for seven kills in the first set and leading the Tigers to a 16-13 lead.

“We call her the beast,” said IW head coach Aleksandra Popovic. “We say ‘Feed the beast.’ If she’s hot, we go to her.”

The Gorloks clawed back to grab a late lead, 23-22. Paige Kammerer tied it up at 23-23 with tricky kill down the middle, but Webster scored the next two to steal game one.

Through 22 points in game two, the game was tied. Webster, however, went on a 10-3 run from that point and took a commanding 21-14 lead. Webster’s biggest lead of the set was 24-15, and the Gorloks stifled a late Tiger run to win it 25-19.

IW found themselves in an 11-point hole in the third set. Webster led 14-3, seemingly having the game wrapped up. IW stormed back, however, cutting the lead allt he way down to two points, at 20-18, when Webster called the final timeout of the match.

The Gorloks closed the game out scoring five of the last eight points, and escaped Ruble Arena with a 3-0 victory.

“Honestly, we’re very happy with the way the girls played,” Popovic said. “Webster is one of the best teams, and Coach Merry (Graf) knows what she’s doing. She’s a great coach.”

Landre finished the game with 14 kills to lead the way. Breanna Mettler was second on the squad, with five.

Paige Kammerer finished the night with 14 assists and 10 digs. Ariel Smale had 13 assists and 12 digs, and Jenna Murphy led the defense with 15 digs.

IW fell to 3-3 overall this season and 0-1 in conference play.

The Tigers will play at the Knox College tournament in Galesburg, Illinois this weekend. They’ll be back at home the following Saturday, Sept. 21, for a home quad, featuring both Westminster College and MacMurray College.