MOUNT PLEASANT – Iowa Wesleyan College recovered from a two-set deficit to force a deciding fifth set, but Cornell College recovered to win the final set and defeat the Tigers in a non-conference match Tuesday night at Ruble Arena.
The Rams won the match 25-22, 25-20, 20-25, 15-25, 15-8, recovering after the Tigers seized momentum with strong third and fourth sets and sending Wesleyan to 5-18 overall this season. Cornell, an NCAA Division III member of the Iowa Conference, improved to 15-11 overall.
The match featured the return of former IWC coach Jeff Meeker, now the head coach at Cornell, and a reunion between him and Iowa Wesleyan Head Coach Jill Blake. Meeker led the Tiger program as head coach from 1995-98, and one of his players was Blake, who played for the Tigers from 1997-99.
The Tigers got a big hitting night from Megan McVey (Jr.-Fort Worth, Texas), who had a season high 22 kills, and as a team hit a respectable .195 for the night with 62 kills to 29 attack errors. IWC also took control in the third and fourth sets and seemed to have the upper hand going into the deciding set, but Cornell recovered its touch at the end at the same time the Tigers had their worst set of the evening.
Wesleyan hit in the negative for the only time of the night in the fifth set, with three kills and six errors in 17 attempts. It caught up to the Tigers, who trailed just 4-3 before the Rams scored four straight points to get past halfway first. After switching sides, the Tigers scored three straight to briefly get close, but Cornell finished on a 7-2 run to close out the match.
The Rams claimed narrow victories in the first two sets despite McVey and B.J. Wagy (Sr.-Cedar Rapids, Iowa) combining for 19 of Wesleyan’s 30 kills in the first two games. The Tigers heated up in the third set, taking an early 4-0 lead and eventually grabbing control with an 8-2 run midway through the set. McVey added seven kills in ten attempts and three blocks and three service aces pushed the match to a fourth set.
Wesleyan then put together its best set in the fourth, racing to a 9-1 lead as Beth Guzman (Jr.-San Bernardino, Calif.) recorded a kill and then served out five straight points. Cornell got back within four but no closer as the Tigers stretched it out again on the strength of hitting .467 in the set with 16 kills and just two attack errors.
McVey posted a match high in kills, while Wagy and Allegra Tennis (Sr.-Madison, Wis.) added 14 and 11 kills, respectively. Kendra Zimmerman (Sr.-Green Bay, Wis.) finished with 50 assists, one shy of a career high, and also led the team with 19 digs. Katie Jammer (Sr.-Green Bay, Wis.) also had 15 digs, with Wagy adding 13, McVey posting 12 and Alexi Holmes (So.-Richland, Iowa) also chipping in 10 digs.
Kathleen O’Connor led Cornell with 17 kills. Hannah Boehmer had 43 assists and Kayla Gaines paced the Rams with 29 digs. The Rams improved to 3-1 against Midwest Collegiate Conference teams this year, with wins also against St. Ambrose University and Clarke University and a loss to Mount Mercy University.
IWC will hit the road Thursday to face Culver-Stockton (Mo.) College in a non-conference match at 7 p.m. in Canton, Mo.
Box score Cornell 3 IWC 2