The IUPUI Jaguars Volleyball notched their first ever win against the three-time defending Horizon League champions Cleveland State Vikings, who won the first six meetings, on Wednesday. The Jags were led by 21 kills from Hannah Oehlberg. Maggie Gibson posted a career high 44 assists in the match.
The first set was highlighted by early defensive play up front by Abby Boatman, who recorded three kills and two blocks in the set alone. When IUPUI fell down 12-15, Kaitlyn Johnson sparked the team’s momentum with a tremendous spike that setup a 7-2 run. The Jaguars rode that momentum to a first set win, 25-23. The Jags dropped the second set 13-25 after having the game tied 11-11 at one point.
IUPUI’s assistant coach Lindsey Buteyn, dressed in a Ghostbuster’s t-shirt, passionately addressed the team prior to the start of the third set. The team responded with a better effort, but ultimately let the third set slip away 25-23. The fourth set was a back and forth contest filled with drama. Kaitlyn Johnson delivered a kill early in the start of the set that hit close the out of bounds line which left the referees undecided for three minutes in deliberation. The final decision was granted in favor of the Jags. Cleveland State coach Chuck Voss adamantly disagreed with the decision in protest which resulted in a yellow card caution being issued. Voss responded with a challenge that was upheld in the Jags favor after review. Excitement didn’t end there, as the set saw four lead changes before it reached a 20-20 tie. Kaitlyn Johnson delivered another clutch kill to give the Jaguars some momentum, which sparked a five point run. The Jags were able to go forward and win the fourth and fifth sets 25-20, and 15-10 respectively.
“We just need simple grit,” Buteyn said. “The mindset of the team coming off the first set was knowing they could compete with the best. “We can’t allow ourselves to become complacent.”
The Halloween thriller in the Jungle was the culmination of improved team chemistry and coaching efforts to turn the team around and end an eight game losing streak.
“We studied our opponent like never before”, Oehlberg said. “I love being given the opportunity to step up and be a leader.”
The Jaguars have three more conference matches left before the conclusion of the season. A trip to Milwaukee is up first on November 2nd. IUPUI returns home to play against Youngstown State on November 9th and Oakland on November 10th. The Jaguars currently trail Oakland University by three games for the final spot in the Horizon League post season tournament conference.