While on the surface, a three-set loss would appear a less than ideal opening to a season, the Archers’ loss to Southwestern Illinois College yielded much more than initially meets the eye.
The Archers fell 25-17, 25-16 and 25-17 Thursday, but STLCC was competitive in each of the three sets early on before succumbing late, and the Archers were strong defensively throughout.
“We were really pleased with effort, scrappiness, and our communication was good throughout,” Archers head coach Johnna Kinney said. “That’s a Division I school over there, and they’re tough. I was, at first, regretting my decision to open with a D-1 school so close to home, but I was very pleased with their effort and how we hung with them overall.”
Anchoring the defense were freshman libero Jess VanNoy and freshman setter Sammie Weaver. With what will typically be a size mismatch in the frontcourt for the Archers, defense and communication will be a priority, two areas that presented challenges for the team a year ago.
“(Jess) was starting to get a good read on the girls,” Kinney said. “She was burned in the corners a couple times early on, but she was picking up on where they were going with the ball and I think she adjusted well.”
An encouraging performance Thursday was particularly helpful given the team’s upcoming schedule. The Archers departed for Chicago this morning (Aug. 23), where they play College of Lake County and College of DuPage. Wins against either opponent would be key, as STLCC will face another Division I opponent on the road next week — Lewis and Clark Community College.
“I think today was a good eye-opener for our girls and for the things we’ve been telling them,” assistant coach Debbie Bronder said. “We’re very pleased with what we saw.”