MARION, Ind. -- All signs pointed to a tightly contested volleyball match tonight when No. 25-ranked IU-East visited Luckey Arena and Indiana Wesleyan University, the team directly behind them in the NAIA Coaches' Top-25 Poll.
What nobody expected came to fruition tonight as Indiana Wesleyan made short work of IU-East in three games. In just over an hour's time, Indiana Wesleyan left Luckey with their eighth consecutive win by scores of 25-19, 25-12, 25-18.
"This is the best mentally played game I've seen the girls play so far," said Indiana Wesleyan head coach Candace Moats. "They took everything that was basically said, they executed it then they did what we had prepared to do. That's the change. They're trusting it now. They're trusting that the adjustments we are making are good and basically all the things we did today gave them an incredible confidence that they are definitely able to play at a top-25 level."
Indiana Wesleyan (14-3) pounded the net to the tune of a .330 attack percentage and 41 kills in the match. Sophomore middle hitter Kristine Egebrecht, senior outside hitter Kate Denlinger and senior outside hitter Peyton Thompson all finished with nine kills and junior outside hitter Brooke Atwell contributed seven. Egebrecht did her damage with a .533 kill percentage.
After a mostly competitive opening game, Indiana Wesleyan seemed to hit its stride in games two and three where they were never threatened by the No. 25-ranked team in the country. Moats said the answer came in the Wildcats' serves.
"We served into a route and they couldn't adjust. We just served the short ball and they could not do anything with it. They only went outside so we just put our blockers out there and just waited for them."
Indiana Wesleyan totaled seven blocks in the contest, paced by last week's MCC Player of the Week in Denlinger. The senior had a pair of solo blocks while assisting on three more.
Junior setter Yui Iwase, the reigning MCC Setter of the Week, assisted on 36 kills while adding eight digs in the victory. Senior libero Kelsey Masuda, the conference's reigning Libero of the Week, added 21 digs and a pair of service aces.
Indiana Wesleyan will continue to play high quality opponents this weekend at the Liz Lykowski Memorial Tournament at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The quick win over IU-East helps build some confidence for at least one match against a ranked opponent in Fort Wayne.
"What they're now beginning to see is that they are good and now what they have to do is keep believing they're good in the top-20," said Moats. "Sights are higher now. We're better than just top-30. We should be thinking bigger."
Indiana Wesleyan opens the tournament on Friday at 5 p.m. versus No. 16-ranked Madonna (Mich.) University and then Campbellsville (Ky.) University at 9 p.m. Matches for Saturday will be determined based on results Friday, so additional top-25 competition may await.