GREENVILLE, Ill. - The women's volleyball team asserted themselves early and often against Westminster College, claiming the 2020-21 SLIAC volleyball tournament title. The top-seeded Panthers defeated the No. 2 seeded Blue Jays 25-17, 25-9, 25-23, marking the first championship sweep since 2016. The title gives Greenville six in program history, moving into second place all-time in SLIAC history.
To get an idea of how the match would go one only needed to watch the first point. Holding serve, the Panthers opened up with a strong defensive showing as Amanda Hollis and Emily Stahl teamed up for a block at the net. That would be a common theme throughout the match as Greenville finished with a season high 10 blocks in the match, the most blocks in a championship match since 2015.
The score was tied at 4-4 in the opening set when the Panthers reeled off five straight points on Blue Jays errors. That was all the Panthers needed in maintaining control of the set, not allowing them to get any closer than three points and closing out the set on a Stahl kill for a 25-16 win. Westminster hit -.056 in the set with seven kills and nine errors while Greenville put down 13 kils.
The Blue Jays hitting woes continued in the second set with the Panthers strong defense at the net and Panther libero Chasity Hill roaming the backline to keep rallies alive. A kill from Greenville's Jasmin Smith got the scoring started in the set, sparking her team to a 13-4 lead. The Panthers would not let up, closing out for a 25-9 win with Hollis notching the set winning point on a kill. Westminster finished with just four kills while committing 10 errors, hitting -.240 in the set, while Greenville hit .370 as a team.
Westminster did not give up, opening up a 6-4 lead in the third set thanks in part to two kills and an ace from Natalie Needy. Westminster held a 13-10 lead after a kill by Gretchen Durbala but a service error gave the ball back to Greenville, who took advantage of two more Blue Jays attack errors to draw even. The Blue Jays grabbed the lead back at 20-19 and held a 21-20 lead after a ill from Claire Whitehouse.
However setter Kaitlin Murray timed a dump ball perfectly, dropping the ball between Blue Jay defenders for a kill and tying the set at 21-21. Greenville then turned to Stahl, who continued her hot hitting, pounding the ball down for a kill and a 22-21 lead.
The Blue Jays got the ball back after service error but back to-back kills from Hollis put the Panthers one point away from the title. It would be tournament MVP Emily Stahl that would clinch it for the Panthers, with her match leading 11th kill. Stahl committed just three errors to go along with her 11 kills, hitting .400 in the match and adding four blocks.
Greenville hit .205 in the match with Jasmin Smith adding eight kills and Amanda Hollis and Mia Bonacorsi each chipping in with six kills. Chasity Hill recorded 22 digs in the match while Anna Finch finished with three kills and five total blocks.
The season is not yet over for the Panthers (16-2). They travel to Millikin on Tuesday for a match at 7 p.m.