Spot secured in Big South Tournament

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Jehu Walker Graham

jgraham6@radford.edu

 Radford Women’s Volleyball had a successful weekend with two crucial wins against Gardner Webb University on Friday, Nov. 9 and UNC Asheville on Saturday, Nov. 10 to secure a spot in the Big South Conference tournament. Both games were won through sheer defense and willingness to grind out points. With so much at stake, it was inevitable that momentum would take the Highlanders far.The squad kicked of the weekend with a critical win over Gardner-Webb University in what turned out to be a 3-1 set win. Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Wiechecki, with her career high 20 kills, had a contribution that was detrimental to the team’s big victory over the Bulldogs.It seemed like the Highlanders got off to a shaky start when they team got down  to 6-1 early in the first set. Although RU closed the lead to only three points, GW ultimately asserted their dominance to clinch the

first frame 25-20.

The Highs built momentum as they scored the first five points to start off the second set. RU struggled to maintain the lead, falling behind 13-11. With some striking offense from Wiechecki’s nine kills during that frame, the Highs were able to rally back to win the set 25-21.

As the third set commenced, RU continued to control the match by taking the frame to the score of 25-18. Freshman outside hitter Cheyanne James crushed back to back kills to help RU extend the lead.

Although GW got within a seven point range at 19-12 in the fourth, RU sailed through the set with a 25-14 win to finish out the contest.

“It was definitely a big one because both of us had to win to be in the

tournament,” said Wiechecki. “I think we were both fighting hard for that, and we had a lot more positive energy on the court today so I think that helped.”

The second game of the weekend was less of a battle. RU came out striking right away and ultimately won the match-up in a 3-0 sweep.

Redshirt senior outside hitter Yacine Meyer and Wiechecki slammed nine kills to lead the Highs attack. To add, sophomore setter Jena Braden handed out 27 assists to anchor the squad.

Meyer got the ball rolling for RU as a kill helped to establish a 4-1 lead. With an ace from redshirt senior libero Katelyn Meeks, the Highs were able to push out to a 20-12 lead. The first frame was all RU with a final score of 25-15. Meeks issued huge defensive help with a total of 13 digs in the game.

A quick start to the second set, racing out to a 16-4 lead, pushed the Highs to move ahead two sets to none. Offensive pressure in the third frame secured the win for RU. Wiechecki led the team with four kills in the final set to push the Highs forward.

“Our backs have been against the wall every weekend for four or five weekends because we’ve been fighting from the bottom,” said Head Coach Marci Jenkins. “We knew that we had to have one this weekend, and that two would get us in a better spot going in the tournament.”

With the three wins over the past week, RU is now rated seventh in the regular season standings.

Weichecki has also been selected Choice Hotels Big South Volleyball Player of the Week. It is the third player of the week honor of the outside hitter’s career after being recognized twice in her freshman campaign last season.

Although the Highs are currently on a mini winning streak, the challenge ahead still awaits, as they look to take on Coastal Carolina in the quarterfinals of the Big South Volleyball Tournament, Thursday, Nov. 15, at 5 p.m. at the Paul Porter Arena at Gardner-Webb University. Earlier in the season, RU lost to CCU 2-3 in a close battle.