This weekend, the Lady Bulldogs Volleyball team came home with three wins against Texas A&M International University, Emmanuel College, and Clark University, and one loss against Southern Wesleyan University at the Emmanuel College Tournament.
On Friday night, the Lady Bulldogs defeated Texas A&M International, 3 sets to 0. Union took the first set with ease, coming up with a 25-15 win. The second game also went to Union, although it was a bit closer at 26-24. Then in the third set, Union solidified the overall win with a 25-20 defeat.
In Friday’s second game, Union defeated Emmanuel College, 3 sets to 1. In the first set, Union won 25-19. In the second set, Emmanuel College came back, taking the game at 28-26. In the third set, the Lady Bulldogs and Emmanuel battled until Union finally came up with a 30-28 win, and then again, defeated Emmanuel 25-20 in the fourth and final set.
On Saturday, the Lady Bulldogs defeated Clark Atlanta University, 3 sets to 0. Union won all three sets comfortably, scoring 25-16, 25-20, and 25-15 to take the win.
Later on Saturday, Union was defeated 3 sets to 2 by Southern Wesleyan University. The first set was won by Southern Wesleyan, 25-20. Union took the second set 25-19, and then lost the third 23-25. The Lady Bulldogs came back to win the fourth set 25-18, but could not come away with the fifth set, losing the game to Southern Wesleyan in a 15-9 defeat.
Katie O’Malley, sophomore, led the Lady Bulldogs with 46 kills and 51 digs throughout the tournament.
O’Malley attributed the 6-2 start to team chemistry.
“This team’s relationship is different than any other team I’ve been on.” O’Malley said. “We love each other and we would do anything to succeed. Our goal as a team this year is obviously to win a bunch of games and get a conference ring, but we also want to form a family-like connection with one another.”
Abbie Rahn, sophomore elementary education major, put away 39 kills, and Christa Karns, junior social work major, added 33 of her own. Cece Blanchard, graphic art and photography major who is a middle hitter and the team’s only senior, led the team in blocks, with a total of 15, and contributed with 24 kills.
The Lady Bulldogs also overcame a lot of adversity, including Blanchard’s sitting out a game due to illness and a fire alarm interrupting the match against Emmanuel College.
“Christa Karns and Abbie Rahn never have played [middle hitter],” O’Malley said. “But when coach put them there they weren’t hesitant to do what was right for the team and they killed it!”
“Even though we had random stuff thrown at us, like the fire alarms going to go off while we were playing the home team, and having to exit the building, we still came back and won.” Blanchard said.
Bre Carlton, freshman setter and athletic training major, came away from the tournament with 99 assists, and sophomore DS/Libero Taylor Chiaro, elementary education major, had 39 digs.
“I thought we played well,” Darrin McClure, Union head coach, said. “This was our second weekend and I believe we played better this weekend than last weekend. We want to try and improve every time we go out and for the most part I believe we are doing that.”
Although the team is now 6-2 for the season, McClure does not want the team to get complacent.
“The early success we have had really doesn’t mean anything,” McClure said. “Honestly, I try to tell the team it’s not about what we’ve done; it’s about what we do. Our motto this year is ‘don’t let good be the enemy of great.’ I think that helps us constantly evaluate our current state. I do believe the ceiling is very high for this team. We have the most skilled players on this team since I started here in 2015, and we are very young.”
McClure regards the ladies on the team very highly. He values team unity at the utmost importance, and said that it is the “strength and the focus of the team.”
The Lady Bulldogs will play another tournament at North Alabama this weekend before opening conference play on Sept. 19.