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Raiders Respond to Adversity, Defeat Cleveland State in Five Sets

Women’s Volleyball | Photo by Arden Reimer | The Wright State Guardian

The Wright State University volleyball team hosted Cleveland State on Saturday for what turned out to be the most thrilling match of the season. 

Coming into the game

The Raiders played on Friday night, falling to the Oakland Grizzlies at home in four sets. During Friday’s match, WSU lost freshman setter Lauren Yacobucci to a leg injury. The Raiders had already been short-handed, as they previously lost starting setter Katie Meyer to a leg injury earlier this season. 

“[Meyer] is close. She has been practicing with us, she warmed up with us,” Head Coach Travers Green mentioned after Saturday’s game. “Anyone that is a competitor wants to be on the floor, but we want to make sure she is ready for that.”

WSU returned back to McLin Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon looking to redeem themselves from Friday’s loss while looking for answers at the setter position. 

The Raiders entered Saturday with a 7-8 overall record and 3-1 in Horizon League play. WSU carried a 10-game winning streak over the Vikings as well. 

The two teams met three times last season, and the Raiders won the first matchup in three sets, the second in five sets and the third in four sets during the HL tournament. 

Saturday matchup

The opening set saw both teams go back and forth before the Vikings ultimately pulled out a 25-23 first-set victory. 

Both teams continued fighting through the second set; however, WSU salvaged a must-needed win, as they claimed the second set by a score of 25-22. 

After the second set concluded, WSU caught fire. The Raiders did a great job moving the ball around and finding gaps. Additionally, the team found great success in the serving department, as Jenny Morey claimed five service aces in the match and Andrea Bortulin had four. WSU claimed a 25-16 victory in the third set to go up 2-1. 

Trailing 2-1, CSU kept fighting and pulled out a match-saving fourth set victory by a score of 25-22. The match would then head to a deciding fifth and final set. 

At this point, the match was on pace to finish in a thrilling way—very similar to last year’s match at McLin during the regular season. 

The Vikings helped the Raiders tremendously in the fifth set, recording four service errors in the first half of the set. 

WSU prevailed in the end, winning the final set 15-13. The match was one that proved how resilient the Raiders are despite the amount of injuries to the team. Four of the five sets finished within three points of one another. 

Post-game reflections

Megan Alders led the Raiders with 21 kills despite hitting .160 on the match. 

“Today was going in with the mindset of seeing what you get and talking to your setter,” Alders mentioned. 

Bortulin made her first collegiate start following the injuries of Yacobucci and Meyer. Bortulin made an immediate presence, as she dished out 52 assists, a team best since last season when Lainey Stephenson recorded 54 against Western Michigan. 

“I think I’ve grown a lot in confidence since last year,” Bortulin said. “I took it as an opportunity. It was exciting to contribute more than just serving; it is easy when you have leaders like Megan and Callie.” 

The Raiders currently sit at 8-8 overall and 4-1 in HL play. The team has shown that they can respond to almost any circumstance thrown their way, no matter how difficult it may be. 

“One of our standards for our team and this group is ‘no excuses,’ and a lot of times it is way easier to say that than doing it,” coach Green added. “I am really proud of the leadership on our team because that is where it all starts, and then players who aren’t regularly in the rotation, when they get their opportunity, they make the most of it.” 

The Raiders will continue their climb as they hit the road for the next two games, playing at Green Bay on Friday at 7 p.m. before traveling to Milwaukee on Saturday at 5 p.m. 

Viewers can see this weekend’s action on ESPN+.

Adam Campbell

Sports Reporter

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