College of the Ozarks is the host site for the 2019 National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Division 1 Women’s Volleyball National Championship. Beginning on Thursday, C of O seeded #3 of eight, opened pool play against the #6 seed Southwestern Christian University (Okla.).
College of the Ozarks jumped out to a quick 9-5 lead over SWCU following a dig and subsequent kill by freshman outside hitter Abi Menzies. Menzies was solid all match, tallying an efficient 10 kills on 14 attempts (.643). The Lady Bobcat lead would grow to as many as six before Southwestern could mount much of a run. After a timeout, the Eagles would score 6 out of 7 points to pull within one, 17-16. C of O would use a pair of Ryley Thixton kills to close out the first set, 25-20. Thixton finished the game with a team-high 11 kills.
Set two was all C of O. As a team, the Lady Bobcats had 15 kills and just one error on 33 touches (.424), their most efficient set of the day. Defensively, the back row was everywhere, holding the Eagles to just 9 kills to go along with 9 errors. One back-row player, Izzy Gibbany, had a game-high 16 digs. Haley Stallings and Rielly Wallace were right behind, adding 14 digs each. Furthermore, Ryley Thixton logged double-digit digs with 10. The effort was good for a 25-13 set two victory.
In the final frame, C of O would capitalize on a bevy on SWCU attack errors to take an early lead. Despite a late push by the Eagles, the Lady Bobcats would win the set, 25-17, to capture the match. Other notable Bobcat stat leaders included Rielly Wallace who lead all with 32 assists and added 7 kills, alongside Kaylan Smith with 8 kills (.500). As a team, the Lady Bobcats finished the game with 44 kills (.303) to just 28 for the Eagles. C of O also won the dig count, 66-54.
For their second match, C of O played a hot #7 seed Providence Christian College from Pasadena, California. Earlier in the day, the Sea Beggars of Providence pulled off an upset win against the #2 seed Trinity International University (Ill.).
The match was close through all four sets, with the final difference between the two teams being just 4 points. C of O had a late first-set lead of five points, at 20-15, which prompted a Providence timeout. The Sea Beggars would use a 10-3 run to steal their only set of the match.
The Lady Bobcats quickly recovered, jumping out to a 14-7 lead in the second set. Defensively, Kaylan Smith put up four of her seven solo blocks in the second set alone to lead all defenders in the category. Smith had herself a night to remember, adding a trio of digs and 13 kills for a game-high 20 points. However, Providence would make a late push in attempt to steal another set, going up by three points, 23-20. After a timeout, C of O used a pair of kills and two Sea Beggar attack errors to regain the lead. A sweet dig by Rielly Wallace (38 assists) was followed by a quick kill by Maggie Plake (5 kills, 3 digs) to give the Lady Cats the set, 25-23.
While the third set gave the fans multiple ties, C of O only relinquished the lead once, at the gut-wrenching score of 23-22. Fortunately, a Providence service error was followed by a Rielly Wallace ace. C of O would finish-off the set, 26-24, on a Ryley Thixton kill (8 kills, 10 digs).
In the fourth and final set, the Lady Bobcats would sustain an early seven-point lead until another pesky Sea Beggar rally would pull Providence within two at 18-16. A phenomenal dig by Haley Stallings (25 digs), assist by Rielly Wallace (38 assists, 17 digs), and slam by Abi Menzies would prompt a Providence timeout. The kill for Menzies was one of her 6 kills in the fourth set alone. Menzies finished with a very efficient game-high 15 kills (.423). College of the Ozarks would again finish the set 26-24 to win the match.
The Lady Bobcats will return to action for the final match of pool play against #2 seed Trinity International at 10 AM on Friday.