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Thomas More volleyball extends home winning streak to 24 by sweeping past Pikeville on Wednesday night

By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

An elongated losing streak is a rarity for the volleyball program at Thomas More University. That’s why the Saints captured eight conference championships during the past 10 years while at the NCAA Division III level.

But going into Wednesday night’s Mid-South Conference clash with visiting Pikeville, Thomas More — which began its inaugural season in the NAIA with seven straight victories — had dropped three consecutive matches. Two of the losses were against unbeaten opponents (Indiana Wesleyan and Marian) that are nationally ranked in the NAIA poll.

“We knew we had to get our mojo back, and this win was very important to our team because this is a conference match,” said co-interim head coach Elly Ogle after Thomas More snapped the skid with a 25-12, 25-18, 25-15 victory against Pikeville at the Connor Convocation Center. “We had a tough weekend (in Michigan), and played a lot of sets. It was a very tiring weekend.

Thomas More’s Jenna Mummert (10) prepares to attack against Pikeville on Wednesday night. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

“We needed to get back into our groove, and play volleyball the way that’s made Thomas More successful. We know how to play volleyball well. We knew this was a must-win, and we came in here and got the job done.”

Madison Krumpelman collected a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs for Thomas More, which improved to 8-3 overall, 3-0 in the Mid-South Conference. The Saints used a strong serving game to keep the Bears out of rhythm and limited the visitors to a -.063 hitting percentage.

Krumpelman, a senior outside hitter from Holy Cross High School, also added three blocks and attacked at a .261 clip. She said it was crucial for Thomas More to focus on the positive after suffering the three straight setbacks in Michigan last weekend.

“It was really important to get this win because it’s a conference match,” Krumpelman said. “We had a talk after the weekend about how we were going to come together as a team and be positive. I think we really produced tonight.”

The Saints used a 10-1 run midway through the opening set to turn a 7-5 lead into a 17-6 cushion and coasted to a 25-12 win. The second set was much different, though, as Pikeville rallied from a 7-4 deficit to even up the frame at 16-all.

Sophomore outside hitter Emily Mohs responded with a thunderous kill to give the Saints a 17-16 advantage, and that attack ignited a 6-0 run that ended with Thomas More owning a 22-16 lead.

Thomas More’s Madison Krumpelman (left) attempts to block an attack by Pikeville setter Leigh Johnson (16) in the second set on Wednesday night. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Mohs, a graduate of Seton High School in Cincinnati, hammered down 14 kills in 20 attempts and finished with a .600 hitting percentage. Thomas More setters Lizzie Schoenfeld and Maddie Read effectively directed the offense and each distributed 14 assists. Schoenfeld also served up four aces.

Jess Ginn anchored the Thomas More defense and finished with 14 digs, while Sara Crooker scooped up 12 digs. The Saints owned a 51-39 advantage in digs and a 13-3 edge in blocks.

Thomas More has now won 24 consecutive matches at home dating back to the 2016 season. The Saints have not lost at home since Sept. 21, 2016, when Hanover pulled out a five-set victory in the Connor Convocation Center.

“We love playing here, and we get great crowds,” Ogle said. “We get to sleep in our own beds at night, go to school and get ready for the games. We always have a good groove when we play here.”

Noelani Simpson led Pikeville (4-6 overall, 0-3 Mid-South Conference) with nine kills and 13 digs.

With the victory, Thomas More remained in a first-place tie with Lindsey Wilson atop the Mid-South Conference standings. Lindsey Wilson (9-2 overall, 3-0 Mid-South Conference) is ranked No. 10 nationally in the latest NAIA poll.

Unlike a year ago, when Thomas More played as an independent, being in a conference provides plenty of incentive for each match.

“It definitely gives us a goal, so we’re obviously trying to reach the top of the conference,” Krumpelman said, “but I think this past weekend really showed us what we’re trying to reach toward. Not only in the conference but we’re also shooting for a goal to beat the top teams in the nation. Playing those tough teams last weekend will only help us in the long run.”

Thomas More doesn’t play again until Sept. 20, when the Saints travel to Marietta, Ga., to take on Life University in a Mid-South Conference contest. Thomas More concludes that road trip the following day with a road match at the Cumberlands (Ky.) in Williamsburg.

The Saints’ next home match is Sept. 27, when Cumberland (Tenn.) visits the Connor Convocation Center at 7 p.m.

Thomas More has won 23 consecutive matches at home dating back to the 2016 season. The Saints have not lost at home since Sept. 21, 2016. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Contact Don Owen at don@nkytrib.com and follow him on Twitter at @dontribunesport

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