By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The No. 22 (NCAA Division II) Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals flew into Athens, played a volleyball game and got back on the bus for a four-and-a-half hour ride back to the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia.
While on the Concord campus the Cardinals improved to 11-0 in Mountain East play and 24-3 overall as they defeated the Mountain Lions 25-14, 25-14, 25-10, Tuesday night at the Carter Center in a business-like fashion.
Game one was close early on with no team holding more than a two point advantage. WJU pulled even at 12 then went on a 3-0 run forcing Concord to call time. The Cardinals then went on a 13-3 spurt to close out the opening game with a 25-14 win.
Switching sides of the court the visitors scored the first four points of game two. Concord tied at four on an ace by Brytni Willis. Another ace by Lindsey Smith put the Lady Lions ahead 7-5 and CU eventually led by four at 12-8 before Wheeling Jesuit stormed back.
The Cardinals tied the game at 14 and scored 12 unanswered points to take a 25-15 win in the second game.
In game three WJU wasted little time and went about the game in a business-like fashion and ending the match with a 25-10 win and a three-game sweep of their conference foe.
Kayce Krucki led WJU with 16 kills and 12 digs. Madison Strall had 18 assists.
Sarah Jones and Whytni Willis each had five kills for Concord while Nikki McMillan and Amanda Walker had nine assists apiece. Smith had 10 digs, McMillan eight and Jones seven.
While there were three tie scores and two lead changes in each of the first two games, game three saw no ties and no lead changes.
Concord coach Kate Southcott was not comfortable with the defeat, but gave kudos to one of the country’s top teams.
“We’re hot and cold and I think we played pretty well tonight against a team that’s an excellent team,” Southcott said. “I’m disappointed with a loss as always, but we played hard and we have some character.”
Southcott spoke to what she thought was key in the match.
“I think that they (Wheeling Jesuit) are very confident players and they are very experienced,” Southcott commented. “They have played at a high level and they came in confident and they definitely rule the court wherever they are. They have hitters who hit from everywhere and you have to keep an eye on everybody and it’s kind of hard to do.”
Concord fell to 5-6 in the MEC and 13-13 overall. Southcott, who is in her fifth season as coach of the Mountain Lions said the program is steadily showing improvement.
“I guess you could consider us young, I start two freshman. We do have two junior setters and two junior outside hitters,” Southcott pointed out. “Really we’re on our best season from their freshman year to their junior year right now that we’ve ever had. I don’t think we’ve ever been .500.
“We’re kind of on a roll even though we’ve had three losses in a row. I think overall we’re going to end up over .500 for the first time in my career here and with these girls. The future looks bright for us.”
Concord travels to UVa-Wise for a conference match on Nov. 5, before returning home to face West Virginia State on Nov. 8 and Charleston on Nov. 9 in their final home matches of the season.