The last match played by the Waynesburg University women’s volleyball team was on Nov. 2, 2019.
On Thursday night, the Yellow Jackets debuted their 2021 season with a double header against the 2019 PAC runner-up Geneva Golden Tornadoes. The players were not the only ones making their season debuts. Waynesburg head coach Emily Taylor led the Yellow Jackets in her first game ever at the position.
“I was nervous today. They were nervous, especially in that first match,” Taylor said. “I think there were a lot of nerves on everyone’s end of the ball.”
In the first match against the Golden Tornadoes, Waynesburg lost in three straight sets by scores of 25-11, 25-16, and 25-12.
“Our passing was what was saving us. We were keeping balls off the floor,” said Taylor. “We just weren’t finding the floor on their side.”
Senior right side hitter Mya Brooks led the Yellow Jackets in kills (5). Geneva’s senior setter Daphne Hunsinger contributed 28 assists while sophomore outside hitter Olivia Moore led the Golden Tornadoes with nine kills.
Senior Defensive Specialist Alyson Johnson led the Yellow Jackets in digs for both matches, contributing 17 in the first match and 26 in the second match.
“I think it was a good start for us to come out the best we could and play someone really challenging,” Johnson said.
In the second matchup of the double header, Waynesburg gave the PAC runner-up a run for its money. The first three sets exceeded the 25-point mark. Geneva had victories in the first two sets (28-26, 27-25), but Waynesburg stole the third set in a tight 28-26 victory. The Golden Tornadoes would come out on top in the fourth set 25-17, taking the second match 3 to 1.
“The first couple sets, we struggled putting the ball away,” said Johnson. “Once we found the seams and the holes in the defense, that really helped us win the points that we needed to get a closer score with Geneva.”
Senior outside hitter Hannah Colvin led Waynesburg with 12 kills while contributing 4 blocks. Geneva’s junior middle hitter Elana Hoppel led both teams in the match with 14 kills and had 5 blocks of her own.
Taylor credits the competitive second match to Waynesburg’s energy and shift in perspective.
“We weren’t being selfish; we weren’t worrying about our own stats or our own digs. We were just worried about getting the next ball,” said Taylor. “To take a team that lost in the conference championship last year to four sets and even just lose two sets by two and end up taking a set from them, that’s all we can really ask for.”
The Yellow Jackets return to action at the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse to face the Chatham Cougars in a double header on Tuesday, March 2. The first match is at 6 p.m., and the second match is at 8 p.m.
“This season is all about a fresh start,” said Taylor. “Don’t sleep on the Yellow Jackets. We’re going to do big things this season.”