The rivalry between IUPUI (9-11, 5-2) and Oakland (10-9, 4-2) has officially made its reappearance. The Golden Grizzlies strolled into the Jungle and emerged victorious, winning in straight sets of 25-16, 25-20, and 25-18.
The difference in this game was offensive firepower. The Lady Jags, notorious for punishing opponents with ferocious kills, struggled to connect. Their hitting percentage was a measly 12.5 percent, compared to Oakland’s 27.6 percent. Oakland instead stole the show in kills, tallying 49 to IUPUI’s 29.
Kori Waelbroeck kept rolling offensively, recording 8 kills. Freshman Maddie Dean impressed with 6 kills herself. Haley Hoffman paced the Lady Jaguars defensively with 7 blocks. Blocks were the sole statistical category IUPUI outperformed Oakland in.
IUPUI started the first set as they typically do with kills from Waelbroeck and Elizabeth Scott. The momentum quickly shifted to the visitors as Oakland dug in defensively. Waelbroeck and company continued slamming kill attempts toward the opponent’s floor, but Oakland was always a step ahead. Time and again the teams engaged in long rallies for points, most of which went to Oakland.
“You have to be mentally tough,” Waelbroeck said of trying to score against a solid defense like Oakland’s. “You have to work it around and listen to your teammates and what’s open. We’ll be working on that in practice, obviously.”
In set two, the defense of both teams seemed to fade. The teams traded kills for the beginning of the set. Oakland was trailing 11-10 when they decided that they had had enough of the competition. They erupted for a 10-2 run to give themselves a 13-20 lead. The outstanding defensive play of defensive specialist Darrin Rice fueled Oakland’s run. In one rally, she dug three kill attempts in a row from the Lady Jags. IUPUI did their best to recover with a small 5-2 run of their own, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
The beginning of the third set saw a turn in the momentum. The Lady Jaguars came out firing, jumping out to a quick 11-7 lead. Again, IUPUI was doomed by a burst of Oakland offense. The Golden Grizzlies erupted for a 14-3 run, giving them a seven-point lead. By the time IUPUI found an offensive groove, Oakland already had 22 points and was ready to retire the game. The Jaguars fell in the third set and lost the match.
“Their offense was much better than ours today,” head coach Steve Payne said of Oakland’s edge. “They made the kills when they needed to and we didn’t.”
Next, IUPUI takes on UIC (13-6, 4-2) on Saturday, Oct. 14 in Chicago. IUPUI is currently second in the Horizon League standings and UIC is third.
“We’re going to watch a lot of film,” Waelbroeck said of their upcoming matchup. “We’ll scout them well and we’ll see how we match up. We’ll see what’s open so we can hopefully do a better job at finding the shots that are open.
A win in this matchup would add to an already impressive season from the Lady Jaguars and allow them to continue competing for a regular season championship.