Injuries have plagued the Rock Bridge volleyball team since the beginning of the season, and it showed in Tuesday’s loss to Marshall.
The Owls defeated the Bruins 25-17, 25-19 at Rock Bridge.
Senior Kelsey Wilkinson, a second-team North Central Missouri Conference pick, sprained her left ankle at practice a week ago and is expected to be on crutches the next two weeks. She will not play the rest of the season.
Bruins coach Vicki Reimler said Wilkinson was a go-to player with strong offensive skills. Kadie Marler and Katie Payne will split time replacing Wilkinson.
“She’s a strong hitter so there is a missing offensive element, but Kadie and Katie did a nice job of filling in,” Reimler said. “We are just adjusting to that.”
Ashley Schulte said the Bruins (7-13-3) have been adjusting from injuries all season.
“Usually I play next to her (Wilkinson) and we have this chemistry, so we are all adjusting,” Schulte said. “We have been dealing with these gaps all season so we’ve gotten used to it.”
Schulte had a left ankle sprain at the beginning of the season and Taran Eckenrode missed the first six matches with a broken nose and cuts on her right eye from an auto accident.
Schulte said that the Owls (14-7-1) won because they took advantage of the Bruins’ lack of court coverage.
“I think we need to be more aware of where our open spots are,” Schulte said. “They noticed it and they took advantage.”
Owls coach Becky Harrold said her team played well, but Sara Malan is exceptional at reading the court.
“I have one player that just knows where to hit the ball,” Harrold said.
The Bruins’ only lead was 4-5 in the second set. After falling behind 13-9, the Bruins scored three consecutive points then lost four. Reimler called a timeout.
“We had quite a few self-inflicted errors that hurt us,” Reimler said. “We did battle until the end. I’m proud that they didn’t put we didn’t put our heads down and put in a full effort from beginning to end.”
In the first set, the Owl’s biggest lead was 20-10 after the Bruins allowed five points in six serves. The Bruins bounced back with seven of the next nine points, but didn’t score again.
Harrold said she expected a close match. The Bruins split a two-game set with the Owls at the NCMC Tournament Oct. 4.