The College of the Ozarks Lady Cat Volleyball team made a weekend trip to St. Louis for a tri-match at University of Heath, Sciences, and Pharmacy and came away with a split in the two matches.
In the opening match, the Lady Cats took on the host Eutectics of UHSP and things got off to a shaky start.
Set one was all UHSP as they took a commanding lead, 10-3. Ryley Thixton and Bailey Chamberlain slammed down kills to try and spark a comeback, but it was not to be. Playing point for point, USHP matched the Lady Cat challenge and maintained their lead. Set one went to the Eutectics, 25-15.
The Lady Cats needed to regroup in a hurry. Kills by Ryley Thixton and Brooklyn Crawford started the set for a 2-0 Lady Cat lead. UHSP quickly answered and continued their momentum form the set one victory. Seemingly trading one point for two, the Lady Cats fell behind 11-7 as the Eutectics continued their attack. Kills by Crawford, Kiley Counts, and Abi Menzies mixed in with a Mica Chadwell service ace would tie the score at 11 and force a UHSP timeout. The strategy helped break the Lady Cat serve but the competitive fire had been lit. The two teams traded points and played even to an 18-18 tie. The Lady Cats put together a run with kills by Chamberlain, Menzies, and Crawford and built a 23-20 lead. A UHSP timeout was to no effect and a Brooklyn Crawford kill secured the Lady Cat win, 25-20.
Tied at one set apiece, the battle was on in set three. Back and forth the points would go and neither team could establish a solid lead. C of O led 13-11 but UHSP battled back. The teams would continue to trade points throughout the set until a Lady Cat attack error gave the Eutectics a one-point advantage (18-17) and the start of a run. Outscoring the Lady Cats 7-2, the Eutectics took a 24-19 advantage. On the brink of a set two loss, the Lady Cats began to reach deep and found another level of determination. A Bailey Chamberlain kill would be followed by a Mica Chadwell ace, a kill by Brooklyn Crawford, and back to back to back kills by Ryley Thixton. The Lady Cats clawed their way back to a 25-25 tie and a strong surge in momentum. The teams traded the next two points but back to back errors by the Eutectics gave the Lady Cats the come from behind win, 28-26.
Now leading 2-1 and coming off a come back win, the Lady Cats were fired up. Continuing to apply pressure to the Eutectics, the Lady Cats jumped out to an 11-1 lead to open the fourth set. USHP mounted a come-back but the Lady Cats were determined to answer the challenge. UHSP would get as close as 17-12 but the Lady Cats held off the charge and finished off the set 25-18, with kills from Chamberlain and Thixton, and taking the match 3-1.
Match two of the tri-match would pit the Lady Cats against the Red Lions of Lincoln Christian University.
Set one started off as a back and forth battle and the teams played to a 10-10 tie. C of O then used back to back to back Ryley Thixton kills, a Red Lion error, and a kill by Brooklyn Crawford to take over the set. The 5-1 run gave the Lady Cats a 15-11 lead and they would not look back. LCU continued to battle but the Lady Cats repeatedly answered. A kill by Bailey Chamberlain followed by a Red Lion error capped off the lady Cat win, 25-21.
Set two saw a role reversal as the Red Lions took an early lead. The Lady Cats could never seem to break through and LCU continued to build a larger gap. By the midway point of the set, the Red Lions led 12-7 and the Lady Cats needed a timeout. A Ryley Thixton kill out of the huddle would break the LCU serve but the Lady Cats could not get a run started. Answering every challenge, LCU continued to build their lead. Trailing 18-11, a Bailey Chamberlain kill was followed by a Kiley Counts kill and three straight Red Lion errors to cut the deficit to 19-16 and force an LCU timeout. Lincoln Christian regrouped and continued to apply pressure on the Lady Cats. The pressure seemed to be too much, and a series of errors thwarted the comeback bid giving LCU the set two win, 25-20.
Set three was all Lady Cats from the opening serve. C of O took and early 2-0 lead but LCU battled back to tie the score at five. An LCU service error gave the Lady Cats a 6-5 lead that they would not relinquish. Kills by Brooklyn Crawford and Abi Menzies increased the gap to 10-6 and the feel of the set was all C of O. The Lady Cats continued to hold off the Red Lions and took the set 25-20.
Leading two sets to one, the Lady cats held the upper hand. The security, however, was short lived. LCU came charging back in the fourth set and quickly built a 10-6 lead. Point after point, the Red Lions continued to attack, and the Lady Cats could not find an answer. A Morgan Austin kill, and an Abi Menzies service ace would cut the gap to 16-13 but LCU did not let up. A 9-3 Red Lion run would end the set, 25-16 and give them the momentum heading into set five.
LCU wasted no time in capitalizing on the momentum shift and quickly built a 9-4 lead. The Lady Cats were on the ropes and needed to respond. A timeout seemed to be the answer as a kill by Leatha Keller was followed by a Ryley Thixton ace, and kills by Abi Menzies and Brooklyn Crawford. The deficit was cut to 10-9 and LCU took a timeout of their own. The timeout was enough for the Red Lions to regroup and they scored the next three points to force another Lady Cat timeout. Unfortunately, the damage was done and LCU would hold on for the set win, 15-11 and take the match 3-2.
Ryley Thixton paced the Lady Cats with 32 kills on the weekend while Brooklyn Crawford slammed down 29, Abi Menzies contributed 21, and Bailey Chamberlain added 20. Mica Chadwell led the defensive effort with 57 digs in the two matches. Kiley Counts recorded 43 digs, Ryley Thixton - 38, and Morgan Austin - 26. Morgan Austin served up 90 assists to help the offensive cause.
The Lady Cats were scheduled to face Cottey College at home on Tuesday, October 5, but that match was canceled due to extenuating circumstances with the Cottey Volleyball team.
The next Scheduled action for the Lady Cats is now Tuesday, October 12th, as they take on Central Baptist College at home in a 6 PM start.