WVB: Wilkes concludes exhibition season with win over Albright

Wilkes played their final game of the year at the Marts Center on April 23, while also picking up their first win of the season in five sets against visiting Albright.

It was Senior Night for the Colonels, as they honored both Kristie Najdek and Erin Silverman. 

“Both of those young ladies have been around, and they have done a fine job holding up our defensive end,” said head coach Joe Czopek. “Erin Silverman held her ground a handful of times. When she came off, I told her she couldn’t have done anything better. And then (Najdek) served, she has been a great server for us.”

This final contest was also the first night that fans were allowed to watch the game in-person, making this the first Wilkes indoor sporting event with fans in a year and a half.

“It was great having fans back in the stands, especially on my Senior Night, and getting the ability to celebrate with my friends and family,” said Najdek. 

The Colonels found themselves trailing early on, as the Lions dominated the first two sets, 25-17 and 25-16. However, Wilkes would not go down without a fight, as the momentum shifted in the third set and Wilkes started to take control of the game. 

“I tried to encourage all my teammates, back everyone up and remind them to keep their heads up no matter what was going on,” said sophomore Allie Murie. 

Murie, a middle hitter, brought a lot of energy to the match and consistently came up with key kills and blocks to propel the Colonel momentum forward in advance of the final two sets. 

Wilkes went onto win a close third set in overtime, 29-27, before dominating the fourth set, 25-15, and then eventually edging out Albright in the deciding fifth set, 15-13.

“Having fans made the difference in tonight’s win, I think,” said Czopek. “Once the girls got some energy, the fans got some energy, and then the level of play started to pick up and got better and better.”

Even with limited attendance for spectators, the energy within the gym was palpable. Both teams battled back-and-forth in the final set, and the Colonel fans let their voices be heard for the first time since Fall 2019.

“Being that we hadn’t really won a game this season, it was a great end to the season and to my senior night and year,” said Silverman.

The Colonels end their exhibition season on a high note and will be back in action for Fall 2021 with hopes for a full season.