Statesmen open Heart Action with Sweep of Yellowjackets

LAMONI — The William Penn women’s volleyball team started off Heart of America Athletic Conference play with a bang, sweeping Graceland 3-0 Tuesday.

WPU (5-6, 1-0 Heart), which won by scores of 25-18, 25-19, 25-18, outhit the Yellowjackets .194-.065.

The Statesmen were tested in each set, but did not face a deficit until the third go-round.  The visitors scored four of the first five points of the evening and stayed on top throughout the opening set.  GU (4-7, 0-1 Heart) battled back to knot the score at 12-12, but three unanswered points, headlined by an ace by Caidince Cleveland (So., Bettendorf, Iowa, General Accounting), put it out of reach.

Another strong start (first six points belonged to WPU) was again countered by a Yellowjacket run to cut the Statesmen edge to one at 14-13.  The set remained close over the next few points, but a Yellowjacket service error and an ace by Mia Brady (Fr., Pontiac, Ill., Exercise Science) on back-to-back points lifted William Penn to a 2-0 advantage.

The hosts recorded the first three points of third set.  The Statesmen caught back up, but GU recaptured the lead and extended it to 17-14.  A Graceland mistake, however, opened the door and WPU rushed through it, scoring 10 consecutive points to finish off the sweep.

Riley Hungate (Fr., Joliet, Ill., Business Management) paced the navy and gold with 11 kills on a .292 hitting clip.

Alyvia Johnson (So., Owatonna, Minn., Elementary Education) also had a strong outing with nine winners at a .261 mark.  Jade Melton (Jr., Hallsville, Mo., Psychology) contributed five kills off the bench as well.

Macy Bailey (Sr., Bondurant, Iowa, Business Management), with 12 assists, and Brady, with 11 helpers, were both successful in the setting department.  Brady finished with three of WPU’s nine aces as well.

Cecily Liphardt (Sr., Lincoln, Neb., Psychology and Business Management) topped the defense with 17 digs, while Cleveland added 13 more.  Alyssa Young (Sr., Winter Springs, Fla., Biology) was William Penn’s best net defender with one solo block and two block assists.

“It always feels good to get that first conference win taken care of, especially going into a tough conference weekend,” Head Coach Lauren Eldridge said.  “We were finally able to connect more pieces consistently and see things we have been working on in practice come alive.  Both of our pins did a great job of scoring points and our defense was strong in holding down the back line.”

Next Up: William Penn returns to Oskaloosa Friday to host Missouri Valley in Heart action at 7 p.m.

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