The College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats jumped into the 2022 season with both feet Saturday as they hosted St. Ambrose University (Davenport, IA) and Graceland University (Lamoni, IA) in a tri-match at Keeter Gymnasium.
The Lady Cats opened the day with a 3-0 sweep of the Yellowjackets of Graceland University and followed with a 3-1 loss against St. Ambrose.
C of O vs Graceland University
After Graceland scored the opening point, the Lady Cats took control with a 7-0 run for an early 7-1 lead. Graceland settled in and began to chip away at the Lady Cat lead. Powered by Kills from Bri Linehan, Brooklyn Crawford, and Grace Hancock, the Lady Cats held a slim 12-10 lead nearing the midway point of the opening set. The two teams traded points the rest of the way, but the Lady Cats continued to hold off the Yellowjacket challenges. With the set tied at 17-17, the Lady Cats used a Graceland error and a kill by Leatha Keller to open up a 20-18 lead. Graceland would get within one, 21-20 before the Lady Cats took over with a pair of Graceland errors and two straight Kiley Counts service aces to seal the set one win.
Graceland jumped out to an early lead in set two, but the Lady Cats came charging back. Trailing 4-2, the Lady Cats used solid serving by Mica Chadwell to force a string of Yellowjacket errors. The result was a 5-0 run and a 7-4 Lady Cat lead. The two teams traded points to a score of 10-9 when the Lady Cats put together another mini run. A pair of Graceland errors and kills by Morgan Austin and Kiley Counts led to a 4-0 Lady Cat run. The Yellowjackets scored to stop the run but C of O immediately scored another four consecutive points to take a commanding 18-10 lead. The Lady Cat attack proved to be too much for the Yellowjackets to overcome and C of O took the set 25-17.
Set three was all Lady Cats after an early 2-1 Yellowjacket lead. The two teams played to a 5-5 tie before the Lady Cats took control for good. A Kiley Counts kill, along with a pair of Grace Hancock service aces contributed to a 5-0 run and a 10-5 lead. Graceland was able to maintain the five-point deficit to a 15-10 score before the Lady Cats began to pull away. Kills by Linehan, Counts, and Hancock were added to more Chadwell service aces and the Lady Cats were quickly up 20-11. The Yellowjackets hit an error laden stretch and the Lady Cats capitalized. Brooklyn Crawford delivered the final blow with a service ace to give the Lady Cats the 25-15 win in set three and complete the 3-0 sweep.
The Lady Cat offensive attack was led by Bri Linehan with eight kills, Kiley Counts slammed down seven, Bailey Chamberlain – five, Brooklyn Crawford – three, Grace Hancock – two, and Morgan Austin and Leatha Keller, one each. Mica Chadwell led the defensive effort with 16 digs and Grace Hancock tacked on 11. Kiley Counts added nine digs. Leatha Keller chipped in six, Morgan Austin – four, Brooklyn Crawford – three, Bri Linehan – two, and Bailey Chamberlain – one. Morgan Austin added 22 assists in the win.
C of O vs St. Ambrose University
The Lady Cats’ second match of the day looked to be a tug of war from the opening serve. The teams traded points to an early 6-6 tie and neither team could grab the momentum. Kills by Brooklyn Crawford and Kiley Counts gave the Lady Cats a slim 7-6 lead, but the Fighting Bees took the next point to even the score again. The back and forth action continued with neither team giving in. The first two-point lead for either team came on a Fighting Bee error and the Lady Cats took a 12-10 advantage. Another Lady Cat point was good for a 13-10 lead, but the Fighting Bees came storming back to tie the score, 14-14. The intensity of the set continued with points being traded back and forth. St. Ambrose would take the next two-point advantage at 21-19 and the Lady Cats took a timeout. The Lady Cats could not stop the slight shift in momentum and the Fighting Bees scored the next four points and took set one, 25-20.
If the first set was any indication, we were in for an exciting match. The Lady Cats took an early 2-0 lead, but the advantage was quickly cut in half by a St. Ambrose kill. The point battle continued, and the score was soon tied at 8-8. The Lady Cats regained a two-point advantage with a block at the net and made it 11-8 on a Morgan Austin kill. St. Ambrose rallied back with three straight points and an 11-11 tie was broken with a kill by the Fighting Bees. With their seventh straight point, the Fighting Bees opened a 15-11 advantage and the Lady Cats needed to answer. A Bailey Chamberlain kill broke the string and a return error by St. Ambrose cut the gap to 15-13. The Lady Cats continued to chip away and a Mica Chadwell dig led to a point to take the score to 16-15. The Fighting Bees answered but a Brooklyn Crawford kill found the floor on the St. Ambrose side. The Lady Cats could not seem to get over the hump and the Fighting Bees clung to a 19-17 lead. A Grace Hancock ace cut the deficit to one, and a Morgan Austin kill tied the score, 19-19. The Lady Cats took their first lead since the early going, 21-20, on an error by St. Ambrose. The teams traded points down the stretch with the Lady Cats keeping a slight edge. A Bri Linehan kill was followed by a St. Ambrose attack error and the Lady Cats took a 24-22 advantage. The Fighting Bees refused to buckle however and fought back to tie it at 24-24. A service error by both sides was followed by a Grace Hancock kill. A hard-fought point went to the Lady Cats on a St. Ambrose return error and C of O took set two, 27-25.
St. Ambrose was determined to bounce back in set three and they came out with a vengeance. Scoring the first four points, the Lady Cats needed to respond. A Kiley Counts kill broke the string and put the Lady Cats on the board. Solid serving by Mica Chadwell combined with a series of Fighting Bee errors cut the deficit to 5-4 and the tug of war was back in effect. The Lady Cats tied the score at 6-6 with a Bri Linehan kill and an error by St. Ambrose. Trading points once again became the norm and neither team could grab ahold of the momentum. A St. Ambrose service error and a Kiley Counts kill put the Lady Cats up 11-9, but St. Ambrose quickly responded to cut into the lead. The Lady Cats continued to hold off the charge of the Fighting Bees, but every point was a battle. Building a 15-12 advantage, the Lady Cats continued to apply pressure. Trading point for point, the Lady Cats maintained a slim advantage as the set continued. A St. Ambrose kill and service ace cut the lead to 19-18. A service error and a Bailey Chamberlain kill put the Lady Cats back up by three, but St. Ambrose continued to battle. A kill by St. Ambrose tied the score, 22-22, and the Lady Cats took a timeout to regroup. A St. Ambrose service ace was followed by a Bailey Chamberlain kill and the score was tied 23-23. St. Ambrose set up set point with a kill and a serve landed just inside the line to give the Fighting Bees the set three win, 25-23.
With their backs to the wall, the Lady Cats needed to fight back in set four. A Bri Linehan kill and a block for a point by Linehan and Bailey Chamberlain gave the Lady Cats a quick 2-0 lead. As would be expected, the Fighting Bees took the next two points and the tug of war was on again. St. Ambrose found the first stretch of momentum and put together a string of seven unanswered points. Now trailing 12-6, the Lady Cats needed to bounce back. A trio of St. Ambrose errors broke the string and the Lady Cats began to claw their way back into contention. Coming back from the largest deficit of the match would not be easy and St. Ambrose continued to apply pressure. The Lady Cats continued to battle, but St. Ambrose always found an answer. Slowly the deficit grew, and the Lady Cats found themselves in an 18-12 hole. It was crunch time and the Lady Cats needed to put together a run. A Morgan Austin kill was followed by a pair of St. Ambrose errors to cut the deficit to 20-16. Morgan Austin then put another ball on the court between St. Ambrose defenders and the Fighting Bees took a timeout. Clinging to a 20-17 lead the Fighting Bees were looking to break the Lady Cat momentum. Grace Hancock served up a pair of points out of the timeout and a Kiley Counts kill tied the score, 20-20. A St. Ambrose error gave the Lady Cats the lead, but a Fighting Bees kill broke the string. A St. Ambrose error and a Brooklyn Crawford ace put the Lady Cats up 23-21 to force a Fighting Bee timeout. The Fighting Bees scored the first two points out of the huddle and the battle intensified. Another St. Ambrose kill forced a Lady Cat timeout with match point looming. A St. Ambrose ace gave the fighting Bees the set, 25-23 and the match, 3-1.
Grace Hancock paced the offensive attack with 11 kills followed by Bri Linehan and Morgan Austin with eight. Kiley Counts contributed seven kills and Brooklyn Crawford and Bailey Chamberlain added four and three respectively. Mica Chadwell was all over the court and picked up 33 digs in the match. Kiley Counts recorded 16 digs while Grace Hancock added 15 and Morgan Austin and Leatha Keller each added nine. Brooklyn Crawford chipped in five digs and Bri Linehan added one. Morgan Austin contributed 28 assists to the cause.
C of O vs St. Ambrose (Exhibition)
The final match of the day was billed as a best of three exhibition, with the Lady Cat newcomers and younger players getting an opportunity to gain some valuable experience. The Fighting Bees took an early 3-1 lead, but the Lady Cats battled back to tie the score. A Bri Linehan kill gave the Lady Cats their first lead and this match seemed to be headed the same direction as the previous one. The teams traded points until a 3-0 St. Ambrose run opened a gap. Morgan Wood slammed home a kill to stop the run and a St. Ambrose error cut the deficit to 8-7. St. Ambrose then scored seven unanswered points to go up 15-7 and the Lady Cats needed a run of their own to get back into the set. A Paige Durham kill cut the deficit to 17-10 but the Lady Cats still had a lot of work to do. St. Ambrose continued to apply pressure and the Lady Cats took a timeout to regroup, trailing 20-10. The momentum of the Fighting Bees was not to be broken and they took the first set, 25-11.
The St. Ambrose momentum carried over to the second set and they quickly opened a 4-1 lead. The Lady Cats were determined to battle back however, and they put the next two points on the board to cut the gap to 4-3. The Fighting Bees answered with a 4-1 run and the Lady Cats needed to respond. A St. Ambrose error was followed by a pair of Jocee Pettyjohn service aces and the deficit was cut to 8-7. Continuing their trend of runs, St. Ambrose responded with five consecutive points to build a 12-7 lead. The Lady Cats mixed in a pair of points off Morgan Wood kills, but the Fighting Bees tacked on three more unanswered to increase the gap to 15-9. Kills by Paige Durham and Emma McIntire were followed by a pair of St. Ambrose errors and the Lady Cats had clawed there way back within two, 17-15. Kills by Madelyn Sestak and Paige Durham sandwiched a St. Ambrose point and the Lady Cats were back in contention. St. Ambrose responded with a pair of points but kills by Morgan Wood and Christa Duffel tied the score at 20-20. Two quick points put St. Ambrose up 22-20 but the Lady Cats were determined to battle back. An error by the Fighting Bees was followed by a Morgan Wood Kill to even the score at 23. The two teams traded points to a 27-27 tie and neither team was willing to flinch. St. Ambrose was able to squeeze out the next two points and they took set two 29-27, and the match 2-0.
Morgan Wood led the offensive attack with six kills followed by Paige Durham with four, Madelyn Sestak and Christa Duffel with two, and Emma McIntire and Bri Linehan with one each. Morgan Wood and Jocee Pettyjohn recorded seven and six digs respectively. Emma McIntire contributed seven assists in the match.
The Lady Bobcats will be back in action Friday and Saturday, August 26 & 27 in the Trinity International University Classic in Deerfield, Illinois. They will return home September 2-3 to host the C of O Lady Cat Classic.