Mountaineers sweep Cleveland State, Murray State at Gold & Blue Classic
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 06:09
The West Virginia volleyball team came into this weekend’s Gold and Blue Classic with a chip on its shoulder, created when the team lost in five sets to Robert Morris after trailing two sets to none.
West Virginia was victorious two times this weekend after Cleveland State put the Mountaineers to the test early on, defeating WVU in two consecutive sets. The Mountaineers responded with veteran poise as they charged back to draw even at two sets a piece and capitalized on home-court advantage and strong swings by freshman right side hitter Nikki Attea to take the final set.
"I’m not buying the whole ‘these girls are young’ thing," said West Virginia head coach Jill Kramer. "They knew what they signed up for, and they knew that they were going to play collegiate level (volleyball) from the start. That is what they are doing, and that is what I expect them to continue to do."
While the girls of the Mountaineer squad put an excellent performance in the stat sheets, something must be said for Kramer’s knack for calling game-changing timeouts. Thus far in the season, Kramer’s quick thinking and full use of her pauses has led to some serious point swings in favor of her Mountaineer team. That was not forgotten this weekend when her team came back twice to win two 5-set games against Murray State and Cleveland State.
Cleveland State commanded the Mountaineers throughout the early sets of Saturday’s match, but a .333 team hit percentage for WVU powered the Mountaineers to their first five-set victory of the season and fueled the fire for a repeat performance against Murray State Sunday.
"I definitely don’t want to take anything away from Murray State," Kramer said. "But I feel like we didn’t play our best volleyball today. We let them play with us."
The Mountaineers are two games above .500 for the first time since their opening tournament and will enter Big 12 Conference play for the remainder of the season.
"It’s going to get tougher," Attea said. "We aren’t expecting things to get any easier, and we know we are going to have to play really hard against (Big 12 teams).
"I think today was a turning point for us, and we are expecting to continue to do better. We are comfortable as a team, and I think we’re figuring each other out finally."
The Mountaineers will look to Attea more and more as the season progresses. She capped off her Tournament MVP award with a 15-kill performance against Murray St., her seventh double-digit kill performance of the season.
"She’s responded well to that change to the right side," Kramer said. "We really weren’t sure where she would fit in with the way personnel was coming into the season. I’m just glad she’s stepped up and done her job on that side."
The Mountaineers will take their 8-6 record to the WVU Coliseum Saturday to face off against Big 12 opponent TCU at 5 p.m.