It was closer than expected, but the Fort Lewis College volleyball team pulled out a 3-1 win against the alumnae team on Saturday at Whalen Gymnasium, as the Skyhawks won 25-22, 20-25, 25-14 and 25-19.
Bailey Longacre recorded 16 kills in the win, while fellow outside hitter Ohiyah Shirley added 13 and an additional 12 digs to pace the Skyhawks.
Head coach Tricia Melfy said that heading into the season with 12 new players has provided a new set of challenges.
“There’s a lot of talent out there without a doubt, and I think when you don’t see the results, people on the outside might be like ‘You don’t have much talent’, but, the talent wasn’t the issue tonight,” Melfy said. “It was taking 12 new faces and 12 new people from all over the country that are getting to know me and my language, but each other, too. That was the biggest thing. There wasn’t trust yet, and while everyone kind of tried to do their job, but weren’t as disciplined as they should, out of position, and all kinds of weird plays. Maybe it was a bit of nerves, or trying to overdue some things. It was still good to get a preseason match, but at the same time, we have to do a much better job of trusting each other.”
Freshman setter Payton Harmann had 43 assists, while Bayfield native and redshirt freshman setter Courtney Bayles added eight assists and a kill in her FLC debut.
Sophomore Tye Wedhorn had eight kills and two digs in the win.
“Today was really close, but I think it was good to get some competitive play and try some different lineups,” Wedhorn said. “I think we’ve got a better idea of what to work on heading into that first match.”
The women’s alumnae team were led by assistant coach Kendra Swackenberg, who had 11 kills and four service aces in addition to two blocks. She scored 17 of the team’s 52 points.
Heading into Friday’s season-opening tournament in San Angelo, Texas, Melfy said that the final week of preseason will be anything but light.
“Between today and the rest of the practices before the tournament, I’m going to put a solid lineup together that I think will get most of the reps, and see if I can work our way into some good chemistry,” Melfy said. “With the talent, and when we start speaking the same language, we’re going to be hard to beat. They’re going to be pretty intense practices still, and kids are going to get the chance to try out for more time on the floor or work their way into the starting rotation. It’s going to be pretty competitive in the gym still. It’s not going to be tapering into the weekend, it’s going to be hammering into the weekend.”
The Skyhawks will open the season against Southeastern Oklahoma State University at 4 p.m. Friday in the first round of the Kathleen Brasfield ASU Invitational at Angelo State University.