Greenville, IL, 9/15/21 – The Blue Jays travelled to play the Greenville University Panthers in each school's first SLIAC match of the season. The Blue Jays battled the Panthers in the first two sets losing close. The third set saw the Panthers ride the energy of their huge standing room only home crowd to a decisive third set victory as the Panthers prevailed 3-0 (23-25, 20-25, 8-25). The loss saw the Panthers improve to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the SLIAC while the Blue Jays drop to 2-5 overall and 0-1 in the SLIAC.
The first set saw the Blue Jays and the Panthers tied at 23-23 before a ball handling error called on the Blue Jays led to a set point for the Panthers and they did not miss the opportunity to close it out 25-23. The Blue Jays would rally mid-way through set two down 16-13 the Blue Jays would use a kill by Claire Whitehouse (St. Louis, Mo. / Parkway Central), another by Haley Menke (O'Fallon, MO / Fort Zumwalt West) and a solo block by Whitehouse during a 5-2 run that would see the Blue Jays knot the score at 18-18. Greenville would respond by scoring the next four points to take command 22-18 and eventually would finish off the set 25-20. The large and loud Greenville crowd took effect in set three as the Blue Jays just could not get anything going as they fell in straight sets.
Blue Jay head coach Dalton Tucker talked about the match, "We really competed in the first two sets and really had a chance to win them but fell just short in each. The third set Greenville rode the energy of their huge crowd and put us away. This was one of the best atmospheres we will see against one of the top teams in the conference." Tucker added "We will continue to work to get better and see what we can do later in the year when we see them again."
The Blue Jays were led in kills by Menke with eight and Eryka Wanyonyi (Columbia, MO / Hickman) with 7. Gretchen Durbala (Burlington, IA / Burlington) finished with a team high 23 assists. Erica Schrader (Imperial, MO / St. Pius X) would once again lead the defense with 14 digs. Whitehouse recorded 4 solo blocks in the match and 5 total blocks on the night.
The Blue Jays will be back in action on Friday September 17th and Saturday September 18th when they play four matches in Dubuque, IA. in the Loras Invite/UD River City Classic taking on one of the host schools Loras College in a 5:00 p.m. first serve on Friday.