Roadrunners finish 5-1 at OWT for second straight year

Published 6:47 am Monday, August 21, 2023

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ROCKFORD, Ill. — Year two for the Southwestern Michigan College volleyball team is off to a roaring start as for the second straight year the Roadrunners participated in the largest junior college volleyball tournament in the country — the Opening Weekend Tournament — and came home with a 5-1 record.

And just like in 2022, the only team to beat Southwestern Michigan College was ranked in the top 20 nationally.

The Roadrunners wrapped up their final day of competition Sunday by defeating Morton College 25-20, 23-25, 25-15 and 25-15, before ending the weekend with a win over Olive Harvey, 25-9, 25-14 and 25-19.

“This was an awesome start to our season,” said SMC Coach Jenny Nate. “Our entire team saw the court, and we built a lot of resilience throughout the weekend in order to finish and win the four set battles. I was so impressed with our team work, energy, hustle, offensive prowess, and defensive hustle plays. I’m thrilled that we were able to also take a set from the No. 17 team. That single loss taught us a lot about things we need to improve on in various areas and really helped prepare us for our conference matches and to face off with No. 9-ranked Muskegon [Community College] Tuesday. We are excited to get back in our gym and get to work.”

Unlike the first year, Southwestern Michigan took a mixture of freshmen and sophomores. The Roadrunners have a good mix of classes, which showed up in the statistics.

Sophomores like Nikki Nate (Niles), Shayla Shears (Edwardsburg), Emma Beckman (Niles) and Bianca Hobson (Kalamazoo/Loy Norix) were atop most of the statistical categories. So where newcomers like Josie West (Buchanan), Anna Johnson (Niles) and Abi Marquis (Michigan Lutheran).

Nikki Nate, who had surgery on her shoulder and injured her fingers during the offseason, had a huge weekend for the Roadrunners with 81 kills, 94 digs and 22 blocks, which led the team and all three categories.

Beckman had 40 kills, Shears 39 kills and West 34 kills. Elizabeth Stockdale (Niles/Brandywine) had 67 digs, while West has 63 digs, Johnson 51 digs and Beckman 49.

Johnson also led the Roadrunners with 121 assists. Beckman finished with 84 assists.

Southwestern Michigan gets one day to rest and prepare for its next challenge, a trip to Muskegon Community College to face the No. 9-ranked Jayhawks on Tuesday.

The Roadrunners open up their home season at the 1st Source Bank Fieldhouse on Saturday by hosting Glen Oaks Community College in a non-conference match.

For most statistics from Sunday’s matches, click here.