By Jake Loel
On Tuesday, Oct. 14, the Lady Crusader volleyball team took on the War Hawks of McMurry University. Before the game, the team honored its three graduating seniors: Christine Jablonsky, C.J. Broadbent and captain Emily Caples. Jablonsky, a two-year letter winner and politics major, plays outside hitter for the Crusaders and is also the starting goalkeeper for the University of Dallas women’s lacrosse team. Broadbent, a three-year letter winner, is a biology major and plays setter for the Lady Crusaders. Caples, a four-year starter and a 2013 United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) All-American Honorable Mention athlete, is also a politics major.
The Blue Crew-sponsored event brought out a large fan base for the match, and the support showed, especially in the first set. Despite the obvious discipline of the War Hawks, the Lady Crusaders showed an energy and enthusiasm that was missing from the Lady War Hawk squad. Regardless, the set was extremely competitive, with no clear leader until the very end, when McMurry made several fatal errors and fell to the Lady Crusaders 25-19.
In the second set, the War Hawks found their missing energy. The result was a very close set. Both sides showed impressive skill, saving many a ball that, to a less devoted team, would have been impossible. The set was marked especially by impressive digs by sophomore Allison Seager and freshman Diana Hassink and tough blocks by junior Cat Dowgwillo, Caples and junior Jaime Birzer. The second set ended in a 25-22 nail biter, with the Lady Crusaders on top.
During the third set, the War Hawks took an early lead, and the Crusaders fought hard to catch up. The Lady Crusaders fought hard for a comeback, and upon catching up with the War Hawks, stayed neck and neck with them for a while, despite the exhaustion that each team showed. Luckily, however, the Lady Crusaders dug deep and pulled ahead, winning 25-18.
One week later, the Lady Crusaders took on Dallas Christian College at home for their final home match. The three seniors were again honored, and all three were visibly emotional. After the match, Caples gave a few parting words of wisdom.
“Volleyball has really been the prime factor in shaping and motivating me,” she said. “I just feel blessed to have had the opportunity both to have played with and captained my teammates in these past four seasons.”
Before the match, the Crusaders seemed extremely confident, while the Dallas Christian squad seemed confused, tripping over their own feet during warm-ups, perhaps remembering the thrashing they had received from the Lady Crusaders several weeks earlier.
“We’re playing Dallas Christian,” Dowgwillo mentioned nonchalantly, seeming confident. “It should be a quick game.”
The beginning of the first set started sloppily on both sides of the net, and, for the first time in several weeks, things began to look bleak for the recently confident Crusaders. However, after figuring out the kinks, the Crusaders soon pulled ahead, eventually leaving the Dallas Christian squad in the dust in a 25-8 thrashing. Although Dallas Christian sent strong, well-played balls over the net, the Lady Crusaders always had an answer and won the second set 25-9. The Dallas Christian squad put up a fight in the final set but was ultimately overpowered by the Lady Crusaders, 25-19.
Looking to the future, the team has one more weekend of conference play before the tournament.
“We’ll be facing some tough teams,” Caples said. “But I’m really excited because they’re all teams that we’ll be able to compete against. I really want us to finish the season, and my collegiate career, swinging and taking no prisoners.”
The Lady Crusaders certainly delivered on that promise. Although they fell to Southwestern University and Trinity University this past Saturday, they were able to recover with back-to-back wins against Schreiner University and Texas Lutheran University, who they just barely beat out in a 3-2 thriller.
The Lady Crusaders take on Arlington Baptist College on Tuesday, Oct. 28, before the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championships, which begin on Nov. 7.