There’s no such thing as an easy win when Indiana Wesleyan University and Taylor University play each other.
This proved true Friday night in Luckey Arena, as the IWU Lady Wildcats volleyball team defeated Taylor three games to one in a hard-fought match from both teams.
Head Coach Candace Moats said matches between IWU and Taylor always have an extra intensity to them.
“It’s always a battle,” Moats said. “I always look forward to this match because the reality of it is is that I know the best game’s going to come out for both teams.”
The Wildcats’ student section battled the sizable Taylor crowd all night, providing an electric atmosphere for the teams. Coach Moats said the team fed off of the crowd’s energy.
“The crowd was our 7th man,” Moats said. “We asked them to come out and to bring that Wildcat pride, and they did not disappoint me.”
Opposite hitter Alijah Mulitauopele (sr) appreciated the support.
“I think … our fans are great,” said Mulitauopele. “We knew it was going to be loud in here, so we were just ready to play as a team.”
The teams battled back and forth the first two games, but the Lady Wildcats prevailed by scores of 25-19 and 25-23.
Down two games to none, Taylor came back with an impressive showing in the third game. The Trojans opened the game on an 8-0 run and controlled the pace en route to a 25-21 win.
Thirteen ties and fourteen lead changes occurred in the fourth game, but the Wildcats prevailed by a final score of 25-23 to take the match.
“I think we matured tonight,” said Moats. “We’re starting to believe in that confidence, we’re starting to believe in each other, we’re starting to bond together, and that’s what’s bringing us to this level.”
“I think that we know how we can play now as a team with that intensity,” said Mulitauopele. “We should just keep doing that and keep playing with high energy.”
Coach Moats said a win against a big rival like Taylor builds momentum for the rest of the season.
“This moment tonight is what brought us together,” said Moats. “Now that’s going to carry us to go into some other matches.”
The Wildcats play home again Saturday against Mt. Vernon.