Kirchner, Pioneers win four, dominate home invitational

Colten Bartholomew, Sports Editor

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The Pioneers (7-1) took home the crown Saturday afternoon after notching a perfect 4-0 record over the weekend at its invitational volleyball tournament.

Head coach Deb Schulman’s squad only dropped one game on the weekend (the opener in the tournament championship against St. Norbert College), using stellar defense to control the action.

“I thought we played very strong defense. We used good passing and good balance on defense to help us win games,” Schulman said.

The Pioneers amassed 23 blocks through the matches, including five blocks from junior Rachel Oldenburg against St. Norbert.

Senior Samantha Rampart and junior Stephanie Kirchner were named to the all-tournament team, in part for their impact on the Pioneer offense.

“(Kirchner) was a formidable force at the net, and she played very well in the St. Norbert match, getting 23 kills,” Schulman said.

Kirchner, who was named WIAC Volleyball Player of the week for her efforts, was unaware of just how strong her performance was. “I didn’t even realize I had that many kills,” Kirchner said. “I just knew we were clicking as a team. The defense was getting a lot of balls up and the passing was amazing.”

While the host team won all but one game, they were pushed to the brink on multiple occasions. Three games went into extra points, including a 30-28 thriller in the match clinching game against Loras College.

“They didn’t panic and they didn’t allow strings (of points) and used strong passing to get the job done,” Schulman said.

The Pioneers’ strong start has sparked much optimism for the in-conference season.

“We’re going to have to show up with the drive to win, and remember who we represent. If we do that, we can come out on top,” Oldenburg said.

Schulman noted that once the conference season begins, she hopes to run quicker offense, improve on the team’s right side hitting and score more effectively when their passing is off.

Schulman and company take the floor again Friday against St. Olaf at Cornell College.

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