The Ashland University volleyball team will play its final match of the regular season on Saturday (Nov. 11) when the Eagles travel to Tiffin for a GLIAC match that starts at 2 p.m.
The Eagles (14-13, 7-8 GLIAC) can qualify for a spot in the GLIAC Tournament with a win over the Dragons (19-12, 9-6 GLIAC) or a loss by Northwood to Michigan Tech or Northern Michigan this weekend.
The Dragons come into the match riding a hot streak, having won five in a row to seal their spot in the tournament.
"They have good ball control and they like to run their offense really fast," said AU head coach Cass Dixon. "If we can do a good job of getting them out of system with our service and smart placement, then we'll put ourselves in a position to be successful."
The Eagles are coming off a 3-0 defeat to regionally-ranked Findlay and split their previous GLIAC weekend with a win coming at Purdue Northwest before falling at Davenport.
Of the 10 players who played at least two sets against the Oilers, seven were sophomores or freshmen. The Eagles have had to learn to grow into the college game this year after losing some talented leadership off last year's roster.
In talking about the largest area of growth for her team as the season has progressed, Dixon pointed out her team's understanding of the pace of the game at this level.
"The speed at which you have to adjust to be able to compete with the best teams. We're doing a better job of that, but when it gets tough, we need to make sure that we stay focused and control the controllables," said Dixon.
When the Eagles have won games, it has been because they have been able to control the ball and put freshman setter Kali Apelt in positions for her and the offense to flow.
"Kali has been doing a fantastic job setting and being able to run the offense," Dixon said. "Our passing has not been strong recently and she's still been able to get our hitters one-on-one and give our hitters the best ball she possibly can."
Sophomore outside hitter Shelby Woycik has played exceptionally of late with nine double-doubles in her last 10 matches.
"Shelby has definitely stepped up in the last few weeks and, between Shelby and Michaela Ping, they've both been really great on-court leaders. They're leading and keeping up their level of play," said Dixon.
Now, the Eagles have their path in front of them. A win Saturday and they are into the conference tournament. A loss and they will need some help from other teams.