Young Wildcats learn from another tough 5-set defeat

Elyse Swensen
Elyse Swensen

DENVER – Chalk up the second day of the Wildcat Invitational as a learning experience for the Johnson & Wales volleyball team.

After a pair of sweeps on Friday, the Wildcats dropped a pair of matches in five sets on Saturday to wrap up their second home tournament in as many weeks to start the season.

JWU Denver (2-6) concluded the night with a tough 3-2 loss to visiting Illinois Tech by a score of 22-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-18, 15-9.

"Even from last weekend to this weekend, our team just looks so much better. We've learned so much," senior Brooke Paxton said. "We're getting used to playing together and really becoming a family, which is something we really focus on. I think it's just going to get better and better as the season goes along."

Paxton was one of three Wildcats to record a double-double against the Scarlet Hawks, finishing with 11 kills and 18 digs. Classmate Ashlee Ruehs (11 kills, 11 digs) and freshman Hope Hines (13 kills, 21 digs) also stuffed the stat sheet for coach Alicia Roth's team. JWU also got eight kills from freshman Sierra Martin, 25 assists by sophomore Jacquelyn Ortiz and 20 digs from sophomore Kaitlin Jones.

After the teams split the first two sets, the Wildcats won the third set convincingly, 25-15, to take the lead in the match. JWU was within four points of closing it out in four before an Illinois Tech comeback sent the match the distance, where a 5-0 run midway through the fifth set by the Scarlet Hawks gave the visitors the lead for good.

After playing eight matches in the first two weekends of the season, the Wildcats will now get a much-deserved break before opening SCAC play at home Friday, Sept. 20 against Texas Lutheran.

"I think tonight is really going to teach us how to push, especially in those games where it's a little bit close," Paxton said, "how to find a way to just put it away, take that win and run with it."