The Cardinals are heading to the NCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship match! For the first time in school history, Wheeling Jesuit will play for a national title after it swept past Western Washington, 3-0, in evening’s Final Four match.
The Cardinals’ defense and play at the net, keyed the team to victory. Wheeling Jesuit (38-4) registered early blocks and set the early tone and controlled the majority of the match with answers for each Western Washington (27-6) short run on the night with scores of 25-20, 25-19 and 27-25.
WJU dug 76 Western Washington attacks, registered eight team blocks and held its opponent to a .188 hitting percentage. The Cardinals opened the 2015 season on against the Vikings with a similar 3-0 victory result on the same University of Tampa floor.
“What a fine match. I have always dreamt about being here in the National Championship, but for it to come to fruition, it is just a bit overwhelming right now,” stressed WJU head coach Christy Benner. “I am just really happy for the girls as they have worked really hard.”
Benner’s Cardinals move on to WJU’s historic first National Championship match . The Cardinals face the winner of Wayne State (Neb.)/Palm Beach Atlantic in a first serve.
It was the combination of the four WJU big hitters and four double-figure dig players, which led the winning charge. For the hitters, Emma Schleucher led with 14 kills, while Haley Kindall, Kayce Krucki and Sydney Obringer downed 13, 10 and nine kills. On the defense, Jessica Thobe and Sam Obringer combined for 39 digs, 24 and 15. Schleucher (13 digs) and Krucki (12 digs) added double-digit digs for match double-doubles.
More than any match of the year, the Cardinals’ defense was everywhere and had very few attacks that were not saved and kept in play.
“We had the mindset today that the ball was not going to hit the floor. Our defense was on point, because the block was set up in the right spot,” stressed defensive specialist Sam Obringer. “It was a great game defensively and it was a great team effort.”
“We were everywhere (on defense). Jess (Thobe), Kayce (Krucki) and Sam (Obringer) were rock solid,” said Benner.
As she did in the Elite Eight round , Kindall paced the WJU blockers. The All-American middle blocker recorded a team-high six block assists. Five of Kindall’s teammates each had two block assists.
“We were able to get good touches on blocks early on. Andrea (Thobe) did such a good job moving the ball around and keeping Western Washington on their toes the whole match,” added Benner.
Schleucher, Sydney Obringer and Kindall all hit over .340 for the match with .400, .400 and .344 hitting percentages (82 kills, five errors over 82 combined attacks).
Setter Andrea Thobe posted an all-around match with 49 set assists, seven digs, three kills and two block assists.