Women’s Volleyball vs. NKU | Photo by Arden Reimer | The Wright State Guardian
Wright State University volleyball has switched into a new gear this season, setting a program record by winning 17 straight games as of Nov. 1, despite just losing one of its biggest players.
Coming into the match
The Raider team now has a wave of momentum behind it after a win over rival Northern Kentucky, now holding a 14-0 record in-conference and nearly securing a Horizon League Tournament in its home gym.
“Yeah, I’m kind of speechless. We’ve had to overcome a lot this week, and I’m just really proud of our team and how they battled tonight,” Travers Green, head coach for the team, said.
Something to play for
After rupturing an Achilles tendon, Lainey Stephenson, fifth year setter for the Raiders, has played a final game for Wright State. The setter has been a rock-solid team-player since 2018, passing at least 1,000 assists every season.
“First, it’s incredibly heartbreaking and sad,” Green said. “She’s been a huge part of our team and our identity for a very long time.”
With over 4,600 assists total, Stephenson has the second most career assists in program history and was a reliable leader on and off the court for the Raiders. Despite that loss, the Raiders have rallied and still have yet to drop a game in conference play.
“I don’t know if I have the answer or the right words,” Green said. “Our whole team feels for what Lainey is going through, and what I’ve told our team is ‘teams with purpose are really hard to stop.’”
With the HL Tournament close by, the Raiders are very likely to take first seed, meaning playing the conference tournament at home. With a big chance to win and something to play for, WSU has something to prove.
“We have been doing an amazing job in our conference play, but in order for us to reach our ultimate goal, we have to work through the finish line, and that’s going to be a big one for us,” Green said.
A 1-2 scare
The Raiders’ win streak almost snapped on Tuesday night against Northern Kentucky, as the Norse took set two and three to put WSU down 1-2; but, the Raiders rallied, taking the next two sets against the No. 2 team in the league to continue its win streak.
“I was just really proud of how our team came together. Our team has an incredible belief in themselves and in those moments, we rely on that heavily,” Green said.
After recovering in set four, the Raiders dominated in set five, thanks to the team’s strong hitters and the atmosphere in McLin Gymnasium. The Norse crumbled under the pressure with WSU winning 15-9.
“Just how we approach late game situations and pressure, that’s one of the things I’m most impressed with is how we handle that,” Green said. “A lot of times, attackers get a little tentative, they get a little nervous, and we’re going after it in those moments.”
Green’s new system puts focus on quick offense, setting up hitters to succeed.
“I think we all really came into the season with open minds, and we knew things were going to be different,” WSU right side hitter Callie Martin said. “We were really prepared to adapt to a style that worked out well for us.”
Katie Meyer stepped into the setter position after WSU lost Stephenson and showed great ability against NKU, leading the team by passing out 50 assists, getting 21 digs and playing consistently throughout the match.
“Katie has sacrificed a ton to be in this program,” Green said. “It’s bittersweet in a lot of ways, but now she has the opportunity to shine. We believe in her, and she’s put in the work to be in this position.”