Women’s team fights adversity

By Justine Espersen

In spite of some self-proclaimed setbacks, the Lady Tigers have seemingly dominated their basketball season so far this year, racing to a 17-3 record and No. 14 NAIA ranking.

“We have been doing well and working out the kinks to steadily improve,” freshman Ashley Wilson said.

One of those kinks has been trying to recreate themselves in their play, according to senior Denita Phelps.

“As a team we have been forced to face unexpected adversity this season and we are searching for our new identity, so it has been a very interesting year,” Phelps said.

But the Lady Tigers expect to see success in their conference games. They won their first game in fashion, defeating St. Francis University (Ill) 95-68 on Jan. 14.

The Lady Tigers then won their second conference game against rival St. Xavier University, stunning the No. 13 team 119-78. It was the first time any of the players and only the second time in 12 years any Olivet women’s team had won at St. Xavier.

“The St. Xavier game was a huge win for us,” junior Rachel Kearney said. “We’re finally starting to really come together and play Tigerball.”

There are high hopes for the women’s basketball team, expecting to bring a CCAC championship.

“We are excited to play conference games [even though they[will be more competitive. We will need to elevate our game to reach our goal of winning conference and qualifying for the national tournament,” Phelps said.

But the Lady Tigers will have to play the rest of the season without their 2011 NAIA All-American Honorable Mention Danielle Pipal. The senior point guard tore her ACL against Warner University over the team’s

Christmas break trip to Florida. Pipal’s season-ending injury was just one of several injuries and other setbacks the team has faced this season.

But despite these issues, several players have helped the team earn their 16 wins. Junior Danielle Tolbert has led the Lady Tigers, averaging 11.9 points per game. Phelps has assisted Tolbert in averaging 9.5 points per game and leads the team in rebounds, averaging 5.9 per game.

The Lady Tigers will face Robert Morris University (Ill.) on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Eagles are currently receiving votes in the NAIA with a 12-6 record.

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