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HU volleyball ends weekend on high note

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COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Forester volleyball team opened up day two of the Columbia College Hampton Inn Invitational playing their third ranked opponent in less than 24 hours. While they came up on the short end of a five-set thriller, 25-13, 24-26, 22-25, 25-15, 15-9, to #8 Columbia, they once again made it clear they can compete with anyone.

Things didn’t start off that way; however, as the first set was a lopsided affair favoring the Cougars after which the Foresters bounced back to snag the next two sets before dropping the final two.

“Truthfully, I was really impressed with our ability to rally after the set one letdown to apply real pressure to Columbia,” said Coach Shondell. “We served them off the court for a few long stints, and that was crucial to pushing them to the limit.”

HU committed nearly half as many errors (6) as their hosts (11) while logging twice as many aces with Ariene Butler posting three of her team’s six.

Columbia relied on outside hitters, Peiyi Liu and Caroline Clifford, to carry the offensive load as the pair combined for 36 of their team’s 63 kills. Shondell’s crew, on the other hand, offered a balanced attack with five Foresters logging at least seven kills.

Josie Beaver and Tailor Schultheis highlighted the offense with ten kills apiece. The duo also got the job done at the net defensively by recording 2.5 and 1.5 blocks respectively.

Coach Shondell was pleased with their play. “Tailor was matched up with one of America's best right sides and she still found ways to be successful. Josie was a steady and consistent leader for us and I'm always blown away by her persistence.”

After three tough matches, the Foresters ended the weekend on a high note by easily taking care of business against Friends University with a 3-0 sweep, 25-11, 25-12, 25-16.

It was a match where Coach Shondell’s crew trailed just twice, each time for just one possession, and every healthy Forester saw action to make for a quick team win.

“After a long weekend with the ups and downs we had, we easily could have come out flat in this match, but we were a machine,” said Shondell. “We got our middles involved early and that opened up things for our entire offense.”

The numbers say it all as the Foresters posted 35 kills at a hitting percentage of .281. Beaver and Brandy Michie each finished with nine kills on 31 combined attempts and just one hitting error. Haley Longley added five kills while Lauren Cresse posted four.

Mikayla Carpenter finished with three of her team’s 12 service aces. She also finished with a team-high 13 digs.   

“On the whole, this was a spectacular weekend for Forester Volleyball,” noted Shondell. “While 1-3 isn't the record we wanted to leave here with, we also leave here with the respect of some of the best teams in the country.”

Huntington (6-5) turns their attention back to conference play on Wednesday with a road trip to Taylor.

The Huntington University Foresters compete in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 38 NAIA All-America honors and 274 All-America Scholar Athlete honors. Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S. News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest.