LIMA - The University of Northwestern Ohio volleyball team opened its home schedule with a pair of strong wins Wednesday, beating Huntington University 3-1 and the University of Rio Grande by a matching 3-1 margin.
The win moved the Lady Racers record to 6-1 on the eve of their trip to Florida as a part of the difficult roster of teams at the Embry-Riddle Labor Day Classic.
"We have so many new girls, I was just excited to get here and let some of the new girls see what this environment is like," UNOH coach Kevin Kitchen said. "Playing at home, the place where you practice, there has to be some warming feeling there."
To watch the video of Kitchen's interview, follow this link.
In the first match, UNOH beat the Foresters 25-18, 25-18, 23-25, 25-16. Casey Gates had 18 kills and 11 digs, libero Ellie Comes added 14 digs and setter Lauren Maxwell had 44 assists, six kills and nine digs.
"This whole program is built on, I don't want to say small, but not the biggest group of girls but quick and athletic. They thrive on playing five-setters," Kitchen said. "We came out, we were really scrappy and played a ton better."
"That's what they do. I could take one of them out and put another one back there and put the different colored jersey on them," Kitchen said. "They're all trained to play all three positions back there. … I have some front row girls coming out because I have those three back there. It's nice knowing they're going to keep us in system and dig a lot of balls back there."
The Lady Racers were strong from the outside. In addition to Gates' 32 kills, 26 digs and four blocks, Emily Crowell had 16 kills and two digs and Sabrina Lemmink had 12 kills. Jennifer VanVleet had four kills against Huntington.
At the middle blocker position, Egbert had 21 kills and two blocks and Fullenkamp had 13 kills and two blocks.
"They're the ones that are going to make us go because they open everything up for our outsides," Kitchen said.
Maxwell had 90 assists and 19 digs in the two matches, living up to the potential and hopes Kitchen had when he signed her out of Oakland Community College.
"She wants to win more than anybody, and that says a lot because I want to win really bad," Kitchen said. "She controls her team, and she's still getting used to the system, getting used to me, getting used to who her hitters are."
The Lady Racers are back at Racers Gymnasium for a Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference match against UM-Dearborn on Wednesday, September 19.