Greenville, IL, 11/6/21 – For the third year in a row the Blue Jays volleyball team advanced to the SLIAC Conference Tournament Championship Game. Waiting for the Jays would be SLIAC undefeated Greenville University Panthers and their roster full of fifth year seniors taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be a difficult task. The Panthers lived up to their ranking in the first two sets and just snuck by the Jays in set three to win the tournament championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 3-0 victory (14-25, 13-25, 27-29).
The Blue Jays would end their season at 14-16 overall and a 9-3 second place regular season and postseason finish in the SLIAC.
The Blue Jays were led by Senior Middle Claire Whitehouse (St. Louis, MO / Parkway Central), Eryka Wanyonyi (Columbia, MO / Hickman) and Haley Menke (O'Fallon, MO / Fort Zumwalt West) who each had six kills apiece. Whitehouse would hit a team high .286 for the match. Senior Setter Gretchen Durbala (Burlington, IA / Burlington) once again led the team in assists with 21. She was also named to the All-Tournament Team. Senior Libero Erica Schrader (Imperial, MO / St. Pius X) led the Blue Jay defense like she has so many times in her career with 13 digs. She was followed by Wanyonyi and Durbala with 11 digs each. Wanyonyi had two service aces to lead the team.
At the completion of the match it was announced that first year head coach Dalton Tucker was named the SLIAC Volleyball Coach of the Year winner. Wanyonyi and Menke were named to the SLIAC First Team All-Conference Team. Durbala was selected to the SLIAC Second All-Conference Team. Whitehouse, who had a breakout season, was named to the SLIAC Third Team All-Conference Team and she also made the SLIAC All-Sportsmanship Team. All the awards were well deserved and it was successful season that saw the Blue Jays win eight straight conference games at one point. The Blue Jays will be back next season ready for another run at a SLIAC Championship. The senior trio of Schrader, Durbala and Whitehouse will be missed. They had a great impact on the program.