Fulton, MO, 9/7/21 – The Westminster College Blue Jays found themselves down on three different occasions in their home opener on Tuesday night. They were down 1-0, then 2-1 and finally down 10-6 in the fifth and deciding set, but the Blue Jays found a way back in every one of those deficits to post a thrilling 3-2 come from behind victory over NAIA Stephens College (23-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 15-13). The win was the first of the season for the Blue Jays and also marked the first career win for new head coach Dalton Tucker.
The Blue Jays dropped set 1 to the Stars 23-25. The Jays hit just .125 while committing 14 total errors in the narrow loss. The second set saw the Blue Jay attack come alive, as they would hit .236 and commit only four errors compared to the Stars who hit .000 with nine attack errors as the Blue Jays would pull even 1-1 with the Stars winning set two 25-20.
The Jays would stumble in the third set. Westminster hit -.185 with eight attack errors compared to the Stars .077 with only six errors in a sloppy game three. The Blue Jays would once again be called on to stand up and try to tie the game up in set number four.
In the fourth set with the score tied 10-10 junior outside hitter Eryka Wanyonyi (Columbia, MO / Hickman) would go to work off of a couple of senior setter Gretchen Durbala (Burlington, IA / Burlington) assists during a three point run that got the Jays some breathing room at 13-10. Another Wanyonyi kill off of a Haley Menke (O'Fallon, MO / Fort Zumwalt West) assist later in the set opened up the biggest lead of the set at 20-14 and the Blue Jays were able to close out the set 25-19 on junior middle blocker Peyton Bledsoe (Mexico, MO / Mexico) kill off of another Menke assist that tied the match at 2-2.
The fifth and deciding set would not start the way the Blue Jays were hoping for as they would find themselves down 10-6 in the set going to 15. Four errors by the Stars and a Wanyonyi kill would see the Jays rally to tie the set up at 11-11. A kill by Bledsoe would give the Blue Jays a lead they would not give up and when Wanyonyi put the finishing touches to a great night all around with the game winning kill to win the set 15-13 and the match 3-2.
Wanyonyi led the team with 17 kills and Menke would finish with 12. Durbala recorded 37 assists. Wanyonyi recorded 13 digs and senior libero Erica Schrader (Imperial, MO / St. Pius X) contributed 12 digs respectively. Wanyonyi led the team with four service aces and recorded one solo block along with Bledsoe. The Blue Jays outhit the Stars .142-.132 while committing 9 less attacking errors for the match.
Head Coach Dalton Tucker had this to say about his teams' game, "We battled a lot of adversity and had a nice bounce back win after our last match. Stephens gave us a great battle and it was an exciting match." Tucker added, "We have a lot to work on this week to prepare for this weekends tournament at Rhodes College."