Isabel Wedell and University of Jamestown women's volleyball weren't out making friends Wednesday, Nov. 28, in Sioux City, Iowa.
After being swept by 10th-ranked Southern Oregon to open NAIA national championship pool play 24 hours prior at Tyson Events Center, the Jimmies meant business against seventh-ranked Viterbo (Wisc.). Wedell slammed 11 kills to the court in a three-set stunner over the V-Hawks: 25-18, 25-12, 25-13.
Jamestown wraps up pool play Thursday facing Chicago-based Saint Xavier (28-11). A win should send the Jimmies into Friday's 16-team elimination round, barring a Viterbo win over Southern Oregon.
Saint Xavier is 0-2 in pool play, falling Wednesday to Southern Oregon 3-0.
"Coach (Jon Hegerle) said before the game to impose our will on them and that's what we did," said Wedell, who came to life for the Jimmies with eight kills in a 25-23 set 3 loss against Southern Oregon the day before. "Definitely, it's an amazing feeling. I don't think they were quite ready for us when we came out.
"We didn't let up and it was a great team win."
Jamestown had previously lost 11 of 12 matches-the last 10 consecutively-to the V-Hawks dating back to 2011. Viterbo had defeated Jamestown in the North Star Athletic Association tournament championship match in both 2015 and 2016, and also brought Jamestown's 2017 season to a close with a 3-0 sweep of the Jimmies in last year's NAIA round of 16.
"I don't know if words can describe what this meant to us," Hegerle said. "The last time we played Viterbo was on this court and they beat us in three. For us to come out and beat them the way we did was very gratifying."
Wedell and sophomore middle Corina Ruud each scored four kills in the Jimmies' seven-point set 1 victory, but Jamestown really cranked it up in sets 2 and 3. Jamestown's attacking percentage stayed above .400 from that point forward, as the orange and black led the second 21-7 before rolling by 13, and finished the match swinging at a clip of .320.
On the other side of the net, the V-Hawks struggled. Viterbo hit just .080, committing 22 attacking errors in 88 attempts to Jamestown's 10 miscues in 97 total swings. Lydia Xu, a 6-foot-4 middle from Shanghai, China, led Viterbo with 11 kills.
"We really served tough and aggressively, and we really passed well," Hegerle said. "We were in system a lot and they were just never comfortable on their side of the net."
The coach praised the play of UJ setters Jackie Meiklejohn and Miranda Lowman. The duo fueled one of the team's best offensive performances of the season, with Meiklejohn coming away with 19 assists and Lowman scoring 13.
It was a carryover from Tuesday's final set against Southern Oregon, when Meiklejohn found Wedell for seven of her eight kills of the frame.
"I talked to Jackie and told her you need to set Izzy more. They can't stop her right now," Hegerle said. "We just carried that into today. I thought Jackie and Miranda both did a great job managing the offense and stepped to another level of play today."
Hegerle said the win was a major leap forward for a young team-Meiklejohn is only a freshman-and it arguably began by leaving some smiles in the locker room.
"In the pregame I talked to the team and just told them I don't want there to be any confusion. Last night that team (Southern Oregon) imposed their will on us and we were way too nice in allowing that to happen," Hegerle said. "We have to play with our hearts, with a can-do attitude, and get under the other team's skin and stay there. I thought in all aspects of the game today we couldn't have played much better."
Jamestown will need a similar performance today against Saint Xavier, the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament champions. The Cougars had won nine straight matches prior to being defeated by both Viterbo and Southern Oregon in championship pool play.
Senior outside Kate Bontrager, and senior middles Helena Atton and Alex Lambros, have all cleared 300 kills for the Cougars this season.
"We just need to come out like we did today," Wedell said. "Carry that momentum and work as hard as we can."
NAIA Women's Volleyball National Championship Pool Play
At Sioux City, Iowa
(24) Jamestown 3, (7) Viterbo 0
UJ 25 25 25
VU 18 12 13
UJ-Kills: Isabel Wedell 11, Corina Ruud 8, Ellie Michaletz 4, Jordan Thomas 4, Britta Knudson 4, Kennedy Conzemius 4, Anna Holen 3, Miranda Lowman 2, Jacie Meiklejohn. Assists: Meiklejohn 19, Miranda Lowman 13, Julina Niemeier 3. Aces: Lowman 2, Holen. Digs: Holen 7, Niemeier 5, Meiklejohn 5, Lowman 4, Knudson 3, Sydney Ellingson 2, Michaletz, Thomas, Wedell, Kori Buchanan. Blocks: Knudson 7, Thomas 3, Wedell, Ruud, Conzemius.
VU-Kills: Lydia Xu 11, Katie Frohmader 5, Miah Garant 4, Aubrey Aspen 4, Maya Roberts 3, Siera Skow 2. Assists: Lauryn Sobasky 13, Chloe Jakscht 12. Digs: Sobasky 9, Rachel Frankowski 6, Jenna Phillips 4, Roberts 4, Frohmader 3, Jakscht 3, Adrianna Reinhart 3, Hannah Erickson 2, Xu 2, Garant, Skow. Blocks: Garant 3, Aspen 2, Xu 2, Frohmader.
Records: Jamestown 23-9. Viterbo 30-7.