One day about two weeks ago, fourth-year Southwestern Illinois College women’s volleyball coach Warren Thomas called his team together after a spirited rally during a practice session.
The soft-spoken Thomas didn’t yell at the members of his team for their lack of hustle or for making mental or physical errors. Just the opposite. For the first time in his long and successful coaching career, Thomas witnessed perfection.
It gave him chills.
“I can honestly say that for a period of about 45-50 seconds that I saw perfect volleyball being played,’’ Thomas said. “There were a series hard hits between the two sides and the ball never hit the floor. Not one time. The reason play was stopped was that I think the girls just got tired. The reason I called them over? I wanted them to realize what they had done.’’
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While SWIC hasn’t achieved another magical “perfect” moment since that time, it has been pretty good. The Blue Storm opened its season with five straight wins before losing in three straight games to national power Mineral Area College on Thursday. Still, the 5-1 start is the best in Thomas’ tenure at SWIC.
“Did I expect to be 5-0? I can honestly say that yes, I did,’’ Thomas said. “In our first match against Rend Lake, we lost the first two games and came back to win it in five. I think that gave us some confidence but they (Rend Lake) had played three or for matches and like I said, that was our first match.
“This is the best team I’ve had in my four years here. We don’t have a dominant type player but we do have a balanced team where everybody has a role and so far they’re all playing their roles very well. We also have good depth. I have confidence in that everybody I put into the match can play and play at a high level.’’
SWIC has been led by sophomore libero Taylor Rakers (Breese) Central, who is third in the nation in aces per game (1.2) and 12th in aces with 21. Two other former Central standouts —Lydia Rehkemper and Maisie Kampwerth lead SWIC in kills with 47 and 45 respectively.
But freshman sisters Caitlyn and Michaela Milligan (Rochester), former New Athens three sport athlete Anisa Al-Bori, Mia Reed (Waterloo) and Carrie Rakers (Wesclin) are just some of the players who have played well in the early going for SWIC.
The Blue Storm is back in action Wednesday at Kaskaskia College and at Missouri Baptist College on Thursday.
SWIC women split in Florida
Former Collinsville High School standout Mikayla McCarthy scored the first two goals of her collegiate career as Southwestern Illinois College concluded its brief trip to Florida with a 4-1 win over Polk College.
Sophomores Alyssa Houck and Elena Mendez added goals for the Blue Storm (1-1) which fell to Eastern Florida 6-1 on Friday. Eastern Florida was ranked second in the NJCAA Division I preseason national poll.
SWIC opens Great Rivers Athletic Conference play on Thursday against national power Lewis and Clark College in Godfrey beginning at 4 p.m.
SWIC men off to good start
Led by a strong offense which has generated 12 goals in its last four games, the SWIC men’s soccer team is 3-1-1 heaading into a showdown with Lewis and Clark College on Thursday beginning at 2 p.m.
The Blue Storm suffered its first loss of the season last week when it dropped a 5-3 decision to perennial national power Illinois Central College.
SWIC golf classic
The 23rd annual Southwestern Illinois College Golf Classic is set for Friday, Oct. 9 at the Orchards Golf Club in Belleville. The cost is $90 per person or $360 per team for this 18-hole four-person tournament which begins at noon with a shotgun start. All proceeds benefit SWIC athletics. Included in the $90 are green fees, cart, range balls, box lunch, dinner and drink tickets.
Hole sponsorships are also available. For further information, persons can contact SWIC athletics at 235-2700, ext. 5371
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.