The Lady Cats hit the court on back to back nights as they hosted Hannibal-LaGrange University to finish out the week. C of O was once again without senior outside hitter Ryley Thixton and the youth of the program was able to gain some valuable experience. Struggling to stay in sync, the Lady Cats battled but fell in three sets to the more experienced Trojans.
Set one looked as though the evening would be an intense battle. The Trojans stepped out on top early with four straight unanswered points. The Lady Cats answered, scoring five of the next six points off kills by Brooklyn Crawford (4) and Morgan Austin (1). With the score tied at five, HLGU regrouped and scored another four straight points. The Lady Cats bounced back and cut the lead to one, 10-9. A battle for each point and the lead ensued and the two teams played point for point the rest of the set. The Lady Cats took their first lead, 14-13 off a HLGU error. Kills by Brooklyn Crawford and Abi Menzies, along with a Kiley Counts service ace, put the Lady Cats up 18-15. The Trojans came charging back and evened the score at 19 and the pressure mounted. The teams traded points to a 22-22 tie before HLGU took a two-point advantage, 24-22. A Lady Cat timeout broke the momentum and the Trojans committed a service error to make it a one-point game. A Brooklyn Crawford kill tied it at 24. Points were traded once again until a kill by the Trojans’ Myrnaliz Perez ended the set, 28-26.
The youth of the Lady Cats began to show in set two as they struggled to bounce back from the tough first set loss. HLGU started out on top and the Lady Cats could not get established. Climbing out to an early 7-3 lead, the Trojans continued to apply pressure to the Lady Cats. Point by point the Trojans continued to build their lead and by the midway point, C of O trailed 14-7. There seemed to be no answer for the Trojans attack and the deficit continued to grow. A small run at the end of the set gave a glimmer of hope for the Lady Cats but set two went to the Trojans, 25-15.
Set three started off closer and it appeared the Lady Cats had regrouped to challenge the Trojans. A kill by Bailey Chamberlain made the score 4-3 early on, but the Trojans continued to apply pressure. In repeat fashion from the previous set, HLGU began to pull away. C of O could not break the momentum and HLGU soon led 14-7. The Lady Cats continued to battle but HLGU continued to increase their lead. With set point lingering over the Lady Cats, kills by Brooklyn Crawford and Morgan Austin gave some traction. A Trojan error made the score 24-17 with the Lady Cats gaining some momentum. With no room for error for the Lady Cats, the Trojans continued to attack and took the set with a kill by Allison Murphy, 25-17.
Coach Muckenthaler stated after the match, “We came out really strong in the first set and executed really well. Our communication and fight was as good as it has been all year. HLGU did a great job of slowly picking us apart in the second set and we didn't gain our momentum back the rest of the night. I'm thankful that Ryley will be joining us moving forward and excited to piece together what we have been working on all season and hopefully peak at the right time.”
Brooklyn Crawford led the offensive effort with 15 kills. Bailey Chamberlain added eight, while Abi Menzies chipped in 5, Morgan Wood – 4, Morgan Austin – 3 and Kiley Counts – 1. Morgan Austin contributed 31 assists. Mica Chadwell anchored the defense with 21 digs, while Kiley Counts added 10. The Lady Cats will be back in action next Thursday, November 3 as they head to Cottey College for a match on the road.