It was a rough day at the new office for the Trailblazers on Monday, September 23. Their third home game of the season proved to be their toughest encounter at Riverbend Arena yet, as a buzzsaw in the form of the Illinois Central College Cougars sliced through the Trailblazer volleyball side, winning three games to none. The loss is LC’s first loss at Riverbend Arena this season.
Despite the best efforts from the Trailblazers, this reporter could notice that this wasn’t the same energy that the team possessed in their home opening 3-0 win over Frontier. In that game, LC took control after a bit of a shaky start, but never looked back. In Monday’s affair, the Trailblazers could never quite click, which opened up holes in the game and the floor for Illinois Central to attack.
“We did some good things but we didn’t get quite in sync,” Wilkerson observed after the game. “We’ve got a few tired kids, we had six games last week. We’re a little worn out, emotionally and physically, but we’ll get it back.”
The difference in energy between Illinois Central and Lewis and Clark was apparent on the court. The Cougars have played a lot of games recently, much like the Trailblazers, but had won the majority of them, winning five out of six games played in a ten-day span. Illinois Central exuded confidence on the floor, and carried out their business like a confident team does.
A highlight for the losing Trailblazers was the play of their libero, Skylar Kuntzman. For the uninitiated, a libero is a defensive specialist in the game of volleyball, wearing a different colored jersey than that of the rest of the team, who’s not allowed to attack a ball above the height of the net during the game. Kuntzman was diving after every loose ball, and rallying the troops as her team fell behind, urging the Trailblazers forward.
“She’s stepped up a lot,” said head coach Bron Wilkerson. “In the last few weeks (Kuntzman)’s really taken leadership over the team.”
The loss is another indication of the rough patch the volleyball team finds themselves in at the moment. They lost every game at the John A. Logan tournament last weekend following a few good results at Riverbend Arena in the weeks prior.
“I think a bit of it is (tiredness), this weekend was just exhaustion.” Wilkerson added, his team having played two games per day over the weekend. “And ICC’s a good team. Parkland coming up is a good team. We gotta get through this little stretch, but I think we’ll bounce back.”
The volleyball Trailblazers are back in action Wednesday, September 25, hosting Parkland as the head coach alluded to. The game Wednesday is the second of the first real homestand for the team, who played much of their early schedule on the road due to the renovations ongoing at Riverbend Arena. For more information on the volleyball team and all Trailblazers, visit LC.edu/athletics.