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Kenyon volleyball digs in to place fifth in 2016 NCAC Tournament

The Kenyon volleyball team was knocked out of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) championship tournament early this past Friday. Coming off of an injury-riddled end to the regular season, the Ladies (18-12; NCAC 5-3) were unable to find their rhythm against Denison University (12-17; NCAC 4-4), losing the match 1-3.

The Ladies were ahead in the match after winning the first set 25-21, but were unable to repeat that for the next three sets. Errors and an inability to respond to Denison’s runs hindered their momentum.

Kenyon’s regular starting group saw very little practice time together in the weeks before the tournament. Delaney Swanson ’19, recently named first team all-conference for the NCAC, was sidelined with a shoulder injury, while NCAC all-conference honorable mention players Jensen Shurbert ’18 and Schuyler Stupica ’19 sat out with knee issues and illness, respectively. Fluctuating lineups caused the Ladies to lose the last five out of seven of their regular season games.

“It was kind of a disappointment that we finished where we did last year,” Swanson said. “I don’t think it showed the drastic improvements we had from last year to this year.” The team’s 12 losses were only one less than last year’s total.

But the Ladies ended the season strong, overpowering the College of Wooster (18-11; NCAC 2-6) 3-0 and Hiram College (20-9; NCAC 4-4) 3-1. Both were teams that had taken Kenyon to five sets in the past. With the two wins, the Ladies placed fifth in the NCAC  tournament.

“Our last two matches definitely were our best two matches of the season,” Head Coach Amanda Krampf said.

Kenyon volleyball is looking at a bright future. They are the only team in their conference without any graduating starters, and starters Mackenzie Bruzzio ’20 and Maleah Miller ’20 added fresh talent to the team this year. Bruzzio finished second behind Swanson in kills with 248, while Miller’s 50 blocks put her behind only Stupica in that category.

“We’re a young program,” Stupica said. “I think next year is going to be an even greater improvement.”