Rylee Serpan (FR/Spring Hill, Kan.) was ready for a break.
She and her Kansas Wesleyan volleyball teammates had been going hard since returning for the fall semester in August. They had played 25 matches and gone through countless practices, scrimmages, video and training sessions.
So, last week’s brief pause came at the right time and it showed in the way they played Wednesday night in their first match since returning.
KWU hit at a .265 percentage, limited Baker to .108 percent and cruised to a 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-17) non-conference victory over the Wildcats inside Mabee Arena.
“It was really nice and relaxing to go home, see my family, watch some high school volleyball,” said Serpan, who led the Coyotes with 11 kills and hit at a scorching .500 percent. “We’d been going at it for a long time, haven’t had many breaks. It was just a nice stress reliever, nice break. Got us all relaxed and ready to play again.”
Coach Jessica Biegert was pleased with the way her team responded after the layoff.
“You never know, are they checked out because they enjoyed the break too much or will they come back ready to finish strong?” she said. “I felt like they were ready to finish and work hard.”
KWU ended a brief two-game skid with the victory and improved to 20-6. The regular season concludes with five Kansas Conference matches; the KCAC tournament begins November 8.
Biegert inserted several reserves in the third set and was pleased with the way they played.
“I like rewarding our bench for how hard they work in practice every day,” she said. “They come in and have the same focus and work to make our squad better so it’s fun to reward them on nights like this. They came in and scored or made a big play right away.”
Biegert was also pleased with the intensity of the entire team.
“I liked our energy regardless of who was in, it was pretty stable,” she said. “People are starting to connect which is what we lacked before the break.”
Serpan agreed with her coach.
“I think our energy was really high,” she said. “We really had good communication on the bench and off the bench. We really were able to put the balls away, our block was also very good and we just hit smart shots to keep it away from the libero.”
The Coyotes were in control from the opening serve. They scored the first seven points of the first set and Baker (6-18) got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Trailing 5-4 in the second set KWU went on a 10-4 run and later pulled away with a 6-2 surge that made it 20-13. Baker rallied and got with 24-22 but the Coyotes’ prevailed on a serving error for set point.
The third set was closer. Leading 16-14 Wesleyan scored eight of the next nine points and won the set and match on a Melinna Schumann (SO/Sabetha, Kan.) kill.
Morgan Bryand (SR/Wichita, Kan.) had six kills, Schumann five and Josie Deckinger (JR/Wichita, Kan.) had 24 assists in the match. Libero Kelcey Hund (JR/Leavenworth, Kan.) led the defense with 10 digs and Elizabeth Hardacre (SR/Kensington, Kan.) had three block assists.
Serpan said the Coyotes were eager to get back on track after the losses to Ottawa and Oklahoma Wesleyan.
“I think we’re in that mindset that we’re just ready to win after those two losses,” she said. “It really lit a fire under us and we really want to win these games coming up.”
KWU, which is 5-2 in the conference, plays Tabor (3-17 overall, 1-6 KCAC) at 7 p.m. Friday inside Mabee Arena. The Bluejays lost to McPherson 3-1 Wednesday in McPherson.