The College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcat Volleyball team returned to the court Saturday afternoon to host the Avila Eagles in a 1 PM contest. Coming off a dominating performance two night earlier, the Lady Cats looked to keep forward momentum against a talented Avila squad.
The Lady Cats jumped out in front early in set one, scoring five of the first six points. Ryley Thixton and Leatha Keller set the tone with several service aces and Abi Menzies threw down three early kills. Midway through the first set, the Lady Cats continued to hold a slim edge with strong play at the net and solid defense. Mica Chadwell took her turn with some well-placed serves and forced an Eagle timeout with the Lady Cats leading 16-8. Kiley Counts and Brooklyn Crawford added an early kill each to contribute to the cause, but Avila would not go down easy. Scoring six straight points out of the timeout, the Eagles had closed the gap to 16-14 and the Lady Cats took a timeout of their own to break the momentum. The timeout did not slow Avila down and they scored the first point out of the huddle. Ryley Thixton tapped a well-placed shot over the net to break the string, but Avila quickly answered. Clinging to a one-point lead, 17-16, the Lady Cats regrouped and scored the next two points to lead 19-16. Avila answered and closed the gap to 20-19 and held the serve and a long volley ensued. Avila won the point to even the set at 20. With five points to go for the win, neither team wanted to give any ground. A combined block by Kiley Counts and Bailey Chamberlain capped a 3-0 run and gave the Cats a 23-20 lead. Avila scored the next point, but a Ryley Thixton kill and a combined block by her and Bailey Chamberlain found the Avila side of the floor. The Lady Cats took set one, 25-21.
The second set picked up where the first left off. Both teams traded jabs and played point for point to a 4-4 tie. Avila scored the next point, but Abi Menzies answered with a kill. The back and forth action continued and neither team could build a lead. Ryley Thixton gave the Lady Cats their first two-point advantage of the set with another kill. Avila, however, was not letting up and scored the next three points to take a 10-9 lead. C of O fought back but it was Avila who built the next two-point lead, 12-10. A Morgan Austin block for a point made it 12-11. Austin then followed with the serve and was able to tie the score. Neither team could gain more than a two-point lead until two unanswered points put the Eagles up 20-16 and forced a Lady Cat timeout. Shortly after the huddle, a monstrous kill by Riley Thixton made the score 21-17 and the Lady Cats were able to rattle off three unanswered points of their own. Avila clung to a narrow, 22-19 lead before Brooklyn Crawford added a kill, and an Eagle error brought the Lady Cats back within one, 22-21. Kiley Counts’ kill tied it at 22 but Avila won the next rally to lead 23-22. A point for each team made it 24-23 Avila, and the Lady Cats were forced to take a timeout. The two teams traded points after the timeout until a Ryley Thixton kill gave the Lady Cats the set two win, 27-25.
The Lady Cats carried the momentum into set three and scored five of the first six points. Avila quickly regrouped and battled back to a 5-4 score. Avila would tie the score at six, but a Bailey Chamberlain kill and a Leatha Keller ace put the Lady Cats up 8-6. A long volley followed, and an Avila error made it 9-6, Lady Cats. Three unanswered Avila points tied the score at nine, but the Lady Cats were not ready to relinquish the lead. Another Ryley Thixton kill, and an Avila error made it 11-9. Avila continued to keep the pressure on, but the Lady Cats repeatedly answered the call. One of Brooklyn Crawford’s eight kills of the set capped a 4-0 run by the Lady Cats and the score jumped to 15-10. The Eagles called a timeout to break the momentum. The timeout was not a deterrent for the Lady Cats. Determined to take charge of the set, Brooklyn Crawford and the Lady Cats poured on eight straight points to take a commanding 23-10 lead. The Eagles battled back to score three unanswered points, but the Lady Cats would not let up. Scoring the next two points, the Lady Cats took the set and match, 25-13.
After the match, Coach Muckenthaler stated, “We are working through some growing pains as we start four freshmen. They are adjusting well to the speed of the college game and making solid contributions as they learn. Brooklyn Crawford was big for us today. She came alive in the third set after Avila changed their line-up. She had a lot of great touches and her eight kills in that set really propelled us to a strong finish. This was a good early season win for us.”
Brooklyn Crawford led with 14 kills, Ryley Thixton followed with 12, Abi Menzies chipped in seven, and Bailey Chamberlain added five. Ryley Thixton recorded 15 digs, Leatha Keller added, 14, Mica Chadwell chipped in 12, and Kiley Counts added seven. Morgan Austin contributed 37 assists in the win. The Lady Cats move to 2-0 and will travel to Batesville, AR for the Lyon College Classic, Friday and Saturday, September 3-4.