College of the Ozarks Volleyball traveled north over the weekend to compete in the Evangel University Classic.
College of the Ozarks vs Tabor College
The Lady Cats opened play against a solid Tabor College team on Friday afternoon. Tabor jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead before a Ryley Thixton kill would get the Lady Cats on the board. Tabor continued to apply pressure and the Lady Cats struggled to answer. An 8-3 run by the Bluejays would give them a commanding 11-4 lead and the Lady Cats found themselves in a deep hole. Point by point C of O started to chip away at the lead and claw back into the set. Kills by Morgan Austin, Brooklyn Crawford, and Abi Menzies would help close the gap and bring the Lady Cats to within four, 14-10. The Bluejays responded to the Lady Cat challenge with a 5-3 run and moved out to a commanding 19-13 lead. The Lady Cats were able to tack on one more point, but the Tabor attack was too strong. Five unanswered points would seal the win for Tabor for the 1-0 lead.
Set two began as a carbon copy of the previous set. Tabor jumped out to a 3-0 lead before a service error put the Lady Cats on the board. The Bluejays quickly broke the serve and went on a 5-1 run for an 8-2 lead. The Lady Cats could only scatter points and Tabor continued to add to their lead. With Tabor in control all the way, C of O could not slow the momentum and the set came to an end, 25-13.
Trailing 2-0, the Lady Cats needed to turn the tide in set three. Ryley Thixton got things started for the Lady Cats with two quick kills. It looked as though the Lady Cats would step up to the challenge and claw back into the match. Tabor was not ready to give up the momentum however, and they battled back. The two teams would go back and forth on the next few points and battle to a 4-4 tie. The Lady Cats were fighting to keep the match going and Tabor was determined to end it in three. Tabor continued to challenge the Lady Cats and slowly edged out in front. Scoring two points to the Lady Cats’ one, soon Tabor had built a four-point lead, 13-9. The Lady Cats would match the play of the Bluejays, but they could not seem to cut into the lead. Trailing 18-14, the Lady Cats’ backs were to the wall. Tabor continued to apply pressure and added another point to the lead. The Lady Cats continued to trade points with Tabor, but they could not cut the deficit and fell in the third set 25-20, and 3-0 in the match.
College of the Ozarks vs. Culver Stockton College
C of O returned to play Saturday afternoon and faced the Wildcats of Culver-Stockton College. Using a Wildcat service error and a kill by Bailey Chamberlain, the Lady Cats put the first two points on the board in the opening set. The Wildcats quickly answered however, and the battle was on. Points would be traded back and forth and neither team would gain more than a two-point advantage in the early going. Culver-Stockton was able to build a three-point lead, 12-9, But the Lady Cats continued to hold their own. The Wildcats continued to answer the C of O challenge and both teams continued to fight for the first set win. Culver Stockton was able to add a point on an Ali Scott kill to make the score 19-15. The two teams traded points as C of O could not break through for a run. Leading 23-19, Culver Stockton secured the next two points and took set one, 25-20.
The Lady Cats came out fired up in set two and established an early lead off a Ryley Thixton service ace, a couple of Wildcat errors, and a Brooklyn Crawford kill - 4-0, Lady Cats. Culver Stockton fought back to score two points but kills by Morgan Austin, Abi Menzies, and Brooklyn Crawford started a run for C of O. The lead quickly grew to 9-3 and the momentum of set two was clearly on the side of the Lady Cats. For every point Culver-Stockton was able to manage, the Lady Cats would add two. Kills by Kiley Counts, Bailey Chamberlain, and Ryley Thixton added to the lead and the Lady Cats were in control, 17-9. An 8-2 run would give the set two win to the Lady Cats, 25-11.
Set three would prove to be an intense back and forth battle form the opening serve. Neither team could build a lead as each point was matched by the opponent. The teams traded points until back to back Wildcat errors would put C of O up 20-18. Keeping the pressure on, kills by Ryley Thixton and Bailey Chamberlain gave the Lady Cats their largest lead, 22-18. Things then began to get shaky for C of O and a series of errors allowed Culver-Stockton to climb back into contention. Four unanswered points by the Wildcats forced a C of O timeout with the score tied at 22. The next two points would be split between the two teams, but it was now Culver-Stockton who had the momentum. A Wildcat kill and a C of O error gave Culver Stockton the set three win, 25-23.
With the Lady Cats now facing elimination, they would have to dig deep to force a fifth and deciding set. Picking up where set three finished, both teams traded points to midway through. Trailing 13-10, kills by Brooklyn Crawford and Bailey Chamberlain brought the Lady Cats to within one, 13-12. Culver-Stockton answered with the next two points, but the Lady Cats continued to challenge. Kills by Thixton and Chamberlain, along with a Wildcat error, tied the score at 15 and forced a Culver-Stockton timeout. Fighting to force a fifth set, the Lady Cats continued to turn up the heat on the Wildcats and slowly pulled away. A Kill by Morgan Austin and a Wildcat error forced another CSC timeout with the Lady Cats now leading 22-19. Culver-Stockton tried to battle back but the Lady Cats were determined to hold them off. An Abi Menzies kill scored the final point and the Lady Cats took the set 25-21.
The final set was sure to be highly contested as both teams were determined to come out with the win. The Lady Cats scored the first two points, but Culver-Stockton quickly answered. A kill by Lexie Capes would give CSC their first lead, 5-4 and they would go on to score the next three points. C of O came charging back with a 6-1 run and regained the lead, 10-8. With the match on the line, both teams fought point for point. After Culver-Stockton scored two of the next three points to tie the score at 14, the Lady Cats took a timeout to regroup. Culver-Stockton would not be denied however, and took the next two points to take the set, 16-14, and the match 3-2.
College of the Ozarks vs. Evangel University
After a couple of tough matches, the Lady Cats had work to do if they were going to salvage a win for the weekend. Evangel was primed and ready to defend their home court and took the early lead in set one. C of O would battle back to tie the score at nine, but Evangel continued their strong play. Going on a 5-1 run, Evangel built a 15-10 lead and would not look back. The Lady Cats tried to challenge but every time, Evangel had the answer. Set one went to the Crusaders, 25-17.
Set two was a carbon copy of the first set and C of O could not seem to break through against a talented Crusaders squad. Seemingly one step ahead, Evangel was able to hold the Lady Cats at bay and led 12-10 at the midway point. Using solid play at the net, Evangel went on a 10-2 run and took a commanding 22-12 lead. C of O attempted to claw back into the set, but Evangel held off the challenge and took set two 25-16.
Facing a 2-0 deficit and momentum strongly in favor of the Crusaders, the Lady Cats were in a difficult spot. Evangel wasted no time setting the tone in the third set. Several kills by the Crusaders had taken the wind out of the Lady Cat sails and the lead quickly grew to 4-0. A kill by Ryley Thixton would get the Lady Cats on the board but another 8-1 Evangel run would follow, and the lead grew to 12-2. Firmly in control, Evangel continued to add to their lead, taking set three 25-11 and the match 3-0.
Morgan Austin recorded 70 assists on the weekend. Mica Chadwell led with 52 Digs, followed by Ryley Thixton with 31, Austin with 29, and Kiley Counts added 24. Ryley Thixton led with 29 kills while Abi Menzies chipped in 26, Brooklyn Crawford added 19, and Bailey Chamberlain tacked on 12.
The Lady Cats will hit the road again on Saturday, September 18th, as they head to Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. The match is set to begin at 1:00 PM.