YORK TWP. — When the Buckeye volleyball team finally gets healthy, it will be a force in the Patriot Athletic Conference.
In the meantime, things remain tough sledding for the defending Stars Division champions.
Alexis Lehmkuhl amassed 22 kills, 18 assists and six blocks and fellow senior Erin Frenk had 20 kills Thursday as Wellington rallied for a 20-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-14 victory over the winless Bucks.
“The girls are sick of losing and I’m sick of losing, but I know they’re giving it their all,” Buckeye coach Tom Schuler said. “We’ve had to shuffle a lot of pieces around, so it’s been hard on all of the newcomers, but no one is giving up — and I like that.
“Once we get everyone back at 100 percent, we’ll show everyone what kind of team we can be.”
West Virginia recruit Kamiah Gibson fired a career-high 24 kills and had 17 assists for Buckeye (0-5, 0-4), while Courtney Keeler had a career-best 10 kills and Sydney Bell had five kills and a team-leading three blocks. All three are sophomores, the latter two rookie outside hitters.
Bucks senior outside hitter Molly Galaszewski made her season debut, playing libero as she continues her recovery from a fractured left ankle. The reigning PAC Stars MVP posted four assists and an ace, but has not been medically cleared to resume jumping, limiting her to back row duties.
Senior libero Clare Mewhinney (concussion) and junior libero Caraline Kunch (right ankle) remain out indefinitely.
“The injuries are frustrating, but we need to keep our heads when we’re out there,” said Bell, who added a pair of assists and two aces. “We have to work with who we’ve got and keep the momentum when we start out well. We’re kind of struggling to keep it going.”
Senior setter Nicole Figueroa dished out a match-high 20 assists and freshman middle hitter Autumn Meyer had 10 kills for Buckeye, which was outblocked 12-7 and committed 35 unforced errors to 15 by the vastly improved Dukes (4-1, 3-1).
The Bucks’ gutsy effort was best illustrated by Keeler, who was slated to split time between the varsity and junior varsity but earned the start. Despite being vastly undersized, she was the most efficient hitter in the match with just two miscues and was very solid defensively.
“I’m going to keep working hard and helping the team in any way possible,” she said. “We’re all doing what we can to try and win games, but know we can do better.”
On that point, Schuler agrees.
“We’re trying to match up the best we can, but the truth is we’re younger than everyone we’re playing right now,” he said. “Starting strongly hasn’t been an issue, but we get tired and the inexperience starts to show. It’s not easy going through it, but every one of these experiences is going to pay off down the road.”