No one in Tigerville is ready to call 3rd year head coach Lauren Axson Isaiah, but her wise words concerning “winning in the clutch” after Tuesday’s five set match with Converse College proved to be none the less prophetic.
The Crusaders, who improved to 3-3 on the season with their second straight five set match are quickly earning the title “Cardiac Crusaders.” The ladies even took it a step further this time going into extra points with Southern Wesleyan in the final set to eventually win 17-15.
Similar to Tuesday’s match, the Crusaders came out hitting, and won the first set easily (25-20), but as is tradition with this rivalry, SWU would not be denied taking sets two (11-25) and three (22-25) from the home team. This is when Coach Axson’s words were put to the test, as the young Crusaders had to come from behind yet again to earn the victory. Fortunately for the Crusaders, the youthful squad rose to the challenge led by freshmen Sara Beth White who contributed 8 kills in the fourth (25-17) and fifth set. Sophomore Kaitlyn Pierce also had a great night adding 12 kills to go along with 9 blocks to lead the Crusaders. After the match senior setter Gabbrielle McKinley commended her young teammates on the effort; “The young girls really stepped up tonight and played above their years, they definitely grew up tonight.” Said McKinley.
It was not all youth though, as junior Charlotte Swain led the team with 17 kills, and Gabby McKinley had an amazing 42 assists on the night. Coach Axson had nothing but admiration for the two veterans afterwards; “These two (girls) really make the difference for us, they definitely represent leadership in every essence of the word.”
Maybe more encouraging for Crusader fans, is that it doesn’t appear that this team has even started to put it together yet. “We had a lot of errors tonight both mentally and game-wise, lucky for us we played our best match of the night when it counted.” Coach Axson stated after the match.
The key for the Crusaders thus far has been the attitudes. Pierce spoke about this attitude after the match, “We won’t quit, we have too much heart and trust in one another to quit.” McKinley added, “Anytime you win a fifth set, you know you laid it out, it speaks well of these girls.”
Another title beginning to set in for Coach Axson is “home dominance,” as for the second match in a row the Crusader Crazies have turned out in huge numbers to support the much improved volleyball team. “The Crowd was amazing. This atmosphere is the best I have seen in collegiate volleyball anywhere.” The next opportunity to see the Crusader volleyball team will be Thursday September 10th at 7 PM as Clearwater Christian comes to Tigerville.