College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats traveled north to Springfield this weekend to play in the Evangel Classic. The Lady Cats opened the tournament with a sweep of Williams Baptist University (3-0) on Friday afternoon. Saturday, however, found the Lady Bobcats falling in two close contests against Evangel University (1-3) and Culver Stockton College (2-3).
Friday’s matchup against Williams Baptist found the two teams playing tightly in set one, which featured 14 ties and the largest lead at just three points. As the first set was coming to a close, C of O trailed 19-20 before a kill by Rielly Wallace tied the game once again. An Eagle block hitting error and two service aces by Haley Stallings, put the Bobcats up 20-23. Kills by Ryley Thixton and Kaylan Smith scored the final two points to give C of O a first-set victory of 25-22. In the final two sets, the Lady Cats took control and posted wins of 25-17 and 25-8 to capture the match. Lady Bobcat stat leaders included: Ryley Thixton with 11 kills, Haley Stallings acing 5 serves and snagging 20 digs, Maggie Plake tallying 4 blocks, and Rielly Wallace handing off 22 assists.
On Saturday, Evangel University avenged their early-season loss to the Lady Bobcats by winning 3-1 in four closely-fought sets. In set one, Evangel captured a 25-21 win, while the second set featured a C of O victory by the same score. In set three, the Crusaders edged out the Lady Cats 25-23, and followed with a 25-20 set and match victory. The Lady Bobcats were plagued by errors, missing seven serves and posting a hitting percentage of .084. There were 29 ties in the match, with neither team taking more than a six-point advantage. Lady Cat leaders included: Thixton and Smith with 10 kills, Izzy Gibbany collected 20 digs, Wallace dished 36 assists, and Stallings aced two serves. Former Lady Bobcat McKenna Miller tallied 45 assists and 20 digs in the match.
In their final match of the day, Culver Stockton took a quick 8-2 lead over the Lady Cats and extended it to 19-11 before C of O went on a run of their own, putting up six consecutive points, including two aces by Gibbany. The Bobcats tied it up at 23 and again at 24 before CSC put the game away at 26-24. Set two was a definite heartbreaker for C of O. The Lady Bobcats led 24-18 but were unable to shut down the Widlcats, who scored eight unanswered points to notch a 26-24 win. The Lady Cats commanded set three, posting an 11-2 run to open the set and never looking back until they closed it out at 25-11. Set four saw the two teams trade the lead until they were tied at 11. C of O continued to extend their lead and closed the set with a 25-19 advantage. Set five was tied at six and again at 10-10, but the Wildcats finished with a 5-1 run to claim the match. The Lady Cats were led by Thixton (12 kills), Gibbany (5 aces and 22 digs), Plake (3 blocks), and Wallace (28 assists).
The Lady Bobcats’ season record now stands at 4-6. They will have a break in the action until this coming weekend when they host the Chick-fil-A Classic on Friday (1, 3, 5 and 7 pm) and Saturday (9 and 11 am, 1 and 3 pm) in the Keeter Athletic Complex.