Shepherd volleyball celebrated record-setting season
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Heads began to turn in the direction of Shepherd’s volleyball team. Teams located in the Mid-Atlantic region weren’t surprised with the start to the season the Rams had, because Shepherd teams in both 2017 and 2018 had won over 20 matches.
However, when the Shepherd record went out to 18-0, more people began checking the Rams’ box scores on Shepherd’s website.
With seasoned players like Peyton Lindblad, Jessica Karcz, Cambriera Hill and Imani Major, the Rams’ beginning began to get individual attention for some of the players.
Shepherd eventually had its all-winning ways tempered with several losses. But by the time the regular season was completed, the Rams entered the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament at top-seeded Gannon in Erie with realistic hopes of crowning themselves the champion there, even though it was their first year in the conference.
Millersville was the opening round opponent and the Rams used a pivotal 25-23 win in the second game to defeat the Marauders, 3-1.
In the tournament semifinals, Shepherd surprised host Gannon by thumping the Golden Knights, 3-0. The Rams won the last two games by the pulsating scores of 25-22 and 25-23.
The win over Gannon brought together Shepherd and East Stroudsburg in the championship round.
Mostly close games left the two teams tied at two games each before East Stroudsburg won the decisive fifth game, 15-8, leaving Shepherd one win shy of the tournament championship.
The season was not over. Shepherd was seeded sixth and entered the Atlantic Region tournament held in Wheeling on the home court of the MEC champion Wheeling Cardinals.
Shepherd was pitted against second-seeded East Stroudsburg in the first round. In a rematch of sorts from the just-completed PSAC tournament, Shepherd and East Stroudsburg found themselves once again tied at two games before another decisive fifth game.
It was Shepherd prevailing this time. With a 15-10 win in the fifth game, Shepherd moved along to the regional semifinals against the familiar faces from Gannon.
Gannon easily won the first game, but the Rams scrambled back to the second game, 25-18. And then the third was earned by the Rams, 25-17. Gannon was not finished. Back came the Golden Knights to grab the fourth game with a nerve-racking 25-23 verdict. A game five was necessary. And Gannon pulled that one out, winning its way into the regional finals with a 15-8 success.
The Shepherd season was finished with a 29-7 overall record and a third straight season with at least 23 wins.
In that last game versus Gannon, Hill and Lindblad paced the Rams in kills the way they had done all season long, while Karcz had 43 assists and 13 digs. Major became the school’s all-time leader in digs with 28 against the Golden Knights. Seone Goode, Elyssia Smith and Nicole Murray were the other leading lights in that match. During the eye-opening campaign Georgia Ohmeke, Mikaylah Hoy and Milleysha Molina-Otero joined their skills with the others to lift Shepherd to its pinnacle of success.
Individuals will be in line for post-season laurels. But it was a true team effort that brought the Rams their record-setting season.