Volleyball falls to Wheaton

A loss to Wheaton on Tuesday made it unlikely Augustana’s volleyball team will make it to conference this year.

In the CCIW, Augustana’s record is 3-4, which makes the college ranked sixth. Only the top four teams go to conference, making the teams’ chances of competing at conference slim, said head coach Kelly Bethke.

Augustana lost the first set to Wheaton with a score of 23-25 but then won the second with a score of 25-13.

 “On the first set, we kind-of shot ourselves in the foot,” said Bethke. “We missed too many serves, and we only lost by a couple. Sometimes, when you can get that first set win, the whole match goes a little bit different….we missed seven serves, so that wasn’t a great way to start.”

In the third set, Wheaton scored the first 13 points and ultimately won the set 25-9. Wheaton then won the fourth set 25-16, ending the match.

“It just came out really flat in the third, I would say,” said Bethke. “I don’t know if we got comfortable after the big win in the second, but we just didn’t come out competing like we needed to.”

Middle hitter Hailee Brayton said the 13-point rut put the team behind, making it too late for them to catch up in the third set.

“We didn’t work together as a team like we should have,” said Brayton.

This was the team’s last pre-conference match of the season and the last of six senior’s collegiate careers, including Brayton.

“It felt good to play and to finish the season (with) the last conference game at home in our gym, and we have a great group of guys who come every game and are supportive,” said Brayton, referring to the shirtless men who donned cowboy hats and shorts to cheer on the team.

Bethke said the graduating seniors will leave a void for the team to fill.

“For the seniors, there’s a few of them that have played and have contributed on the court quite a bit, and the players that didn’t necessarily contribute on the court contributed so much off the court and in practice and with leadership,” said Bethke. “There’s so much those six players have brought to the program that will be missed, for sure.”

Bethke said the team started out the year strong by beating Cornell College, a ranked team, but were unable to beat Wheaton or the “big three” in conference, which are Millikin University, Carthage College and Elmhurst College.

“We were competitive with them, which is a step in the right direction,” said Bethke.

She said in the past, the team has not always even competed. Last season, Augustana lost to Wheaton 1-3, according to Augustana’s box score.

“Elmhurst, Millikin, Carthage and Wheaton, we took one set from each of those, so that was a small step, but we were hoping to get a win somewhere down the road that we never quite did,” said Bethke.