PT Pandas takes intramural women’s volleyball championship


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Usually a match between former UI club volleyballers and graduate students will end in a win for the ex-club players.

But on Thursday night in the Field House North Gym, the PT Pandas, a group of mostly second-year physical-therapy students, defeated the Iowa Club Alumni team in two-straight games to take the intramural competitive women’s indoor volleyball championship.

Despite being a taller and more physically imposing squad, the Club Alumni committed 13 unforced errors during the two games. The team was also pestered by an opponent that Club Alumni players all agreed was tenacious.

“We were getting ahead of ourselves and trying to do things too quickly, and we didn’t let plays develop,” Alison Dietsch said. “[The PT Pandas] is a very scrappy team. The players seemed to pick up on the [tipped balls].”

Even after losing the first game by 12, the Club Alumni appeared poised to dominate in the second game, setting up opportunities for spikes and using the players’ height advantage to block the ball at the net.

But the Pandas dug out almost every spike and kept points in play, seemingly using a “just-get-it-back” strategy to force the Club Alumni to make errors.

“A lot of volleyball is defense,” PT Panda player Emily Muff said. “So if you can scrape up what they put down and just make them make errors, you’ll have a good game.”

The player of the night for the Pandas may have been Muff, who controlled almost every ball she touched even though she was one of the shortest players on the court. She recorded three kills, along with a few tips at the net, to help her team extend its lead and keep it.

Also playing well for the champions on the night were Sarah Nolte and Angela Horan. Nolte managed points using an impeccable court sense to place balls in hidden spots where others may have tried to create kills.

She also had a great kill on the penultimate point of the second game where she spiked the ball while close to the net on the left side, placing it close to the net on the Club Alumni’s right side.

Horan, one of the taller players for the Pandas, got her team motivated with a block that would have made LeBron James proud in the first game, jumping up and deflecting a spike from Club Alumni’s Christina Dal Porto for the point.

Likely the best player not on the stat sheet for the Pandas was Colleen McHenry, a former junior college player now at Iowa. McHenry anticipated where the Club Alumni hits would go, managing the setup bump and first hit.

“I move with where they’re going to hit it,” she said. “If you watch someone’s shoulders or hands as they hit, you can usually move to where they hit it.”

But even with all of the individuals on the team playing their roles, many of the players said it was just an effort as a whole, along with how they put the ball in play, that made the biggest difference in the win.

“We, overall, just played as a team, and scrapped up a lot of their hits,” Muff said. “And we also got a lot of our serves over, so that always helps.”

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