Volleyball took center stage at the University of Health, Science, and Pharmacy in St. Louis over the weekend and the College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats did their best to steal the show. Going 3-1 on the weekend, the Lady Cats climbed to 11-7 on the season and have now won seven of their last nine matches.
College of the Ozarks vs Iowa Wesleyan University – Friday, September 16
The Lady Cats opened the weekend taking on the Tigers of Iowa Wesleyan University. Stepping off the bus ready to do business, The Lady Cats controlled set one from the opening serve. Kills by Bri Linehan, Kiley Counts, and Christa Duffel led the way and the Lady Cats cruised to a 25-12 opening set win.
Set two found a regrouped Tiger squad ready to battle. The two teams traded points through the midway point and the Lady Cats held a slim, 14-12 advantage. A Kiley Counts kill, a Tiger error, and a Brooklyn Crawford ace gave the Lady Cats the momentum they needed, and they began to pull away. Kills by Duffel and Linehan maintained the lead and Linehan finished the set with back to back kills to secure the 25-16 win.
Trailing 2-0, the Tigers were backed into a corner and needed to respond. They answered the challenge and took an early lead in set three. Leading 13-8, it appeared the Tigers had the set under control. A series of errors would say otherwise, however, and the Lady Cats came storming back. Soon the score was knotted at 15 and the pressure was on the Tigers. Playing to a 24-24 tie, Iowa Wesleyan was on the brink of elimination. The Lady Cats were unable to get the stops needed and the final two points went to the Tigers.
Now that Iowa Wesleyan had found some life, the next set was sure to be a battle. The tug-of-war began from the opening serve and continued through the set. Neither team was willing to flinch, and the points continued to go back and forth. The Lady Cats maintained the upper hand and held a 14-10 lead through the midway point. IWU turned up the intensity, however, and soon took the lead, 16-15. Looking like the match might be forced to a fifth and deciding set, the Lady Cats needed to respond. The Lady Cat front line answered the call and kills by Linehan and Duffel secured the 25-23 win to take the match 3-1.
Bri Linehan and Brooklyn Crawford led the offense with 10 kills each, coming off a game high 31 assists by Morgan Austin. Mica Chadwell led the defense with 27 Digs while teammates Kiley Counts and Morgan Austin chipped in 20 and 11 digs respectively.
College of the Ozarks vs Cottey College – Friday, September 16
The Lady Cats next foe was the Comets of Cottey College. Having the confidence of a 3-0 sweep over Cottey from just a week earlier, the Lady Cats were ready to go. The opening set started with Cottey seemingly having the confidence as they jumped out to an early 3-1 lead. The Lady Cats quickly responded, and the teams battled to an 8-8 tie. Cottey continued to hold the upper hand until a Grace Hancock kill evened the score at 14-14. Kills by Morgan Austin, Brooklyn Crawford, and Kiley Counts soon had the Lady Cats in control. Grace Hancock held the serve and CofO finished out the set on a run to win 25-16.
Set two looked to be all Cottey from the opening serve. The Lady Cats were out of sync and the Comets took advantage. Point by point the Comets expanded their lead and there were few bright spots for the Lady Cats. Trailing 19-10, Grace Hancock and Bri Linehan teamed up to get the Cats within striking distance and a 20-15 score. They would get no closer, however, and Cottey would take set two, 25-20.
Coach Muckenthaler used the time between sets to inspire her team and it was clear early in the next set, she had done so effectively. The Lady Cats jumped out to a commanding 11-4 lead and never looked back. Bri Linehan found her groove and slammed the ball to the hardwood on the Cottey side, time after time. The Lady Cats continued to apply pressure and Cottey could not find an answer. Leading 24-13, Grace Hancock drove home a kill and C of O took set three, 25-13.
The Lady Cats were now determined to make a statement. Picking up where they left off, a quick 15-4 lead was the result and the Lady Cats were putting dominance on display. Point after point the ball landed on the Cottey side of the net and the Lady Cats easily took set four, 25-10, and the match, 3-1.
Bri Linehan took over with 21 kills as the beneficiary of 43 Morgan Austin assists. Brooklyn Crawford slammed home 11 kills and Mica Chadwell controlled the defense with 26 digs. Kiley Counts tacked on 15 digs of her own in the win.
College of the Ozarks vs Bethel College – Saturday, September 17
After two big wins the day before, the Lady Cats were set to face a talented Bethel College squad at 10 AM. With both teams competing the day before, neither team was in top form for the Saturday morning match. The two teams battled back and forth early and neither could build a lead. Tied at 12-12, Bethel grabbed the slight momentum and put together a 5-0 run, for a 17-12 advantage. The Lady Cats needed to respond. A Thrasher error opened the door and the Lady Cats began to chip away. A Bri Linehan service ace cut the gap to 23-22 and Bethel took a timeout. The two teams traded points, but the Lady Cats could not get the needed stop at the end and Bethel took set one, 25-23.
Set two looked to be a carbon copy of the first set as Bethel clung to a slim lead from the onset. The Lady Cats could never get the edge and Bethel held off every challenge hurled their way. Set two was a back and forth affair with the Thrashers maintaining a narrow two-point spread. Set two went to Bethel, 25-23 and the Lady Cats had their backs to the wall.
If the first two sets were any indication, the third set was sure to be intense from the beginning. The trend continued from the earlier sets and Bethel took the early lead. Falling behind 5-1, the Lady Cats were determined to battle back. Slowly chipping away at the lead, A pair of kills by Brooklyn Crawford and Morgan Austin brought the Lady Cats back within two, 8-6. Bethel answered the challenge again and held off the C of O attack. Building a six-point advantage, 19-13, it appeared the Thrashers had the set, and match in hand. One final charge by the Lady Cats would cut the gap to three, 21-18, but they would get no closer. Bethel took set three 25-22 and the match 3-0.
College of the Ozarks vs University of Health, Science, and Pharmacy – Saturday, September 17
Coming off a tough loss to Bethel, the Lady Cats needed to regroup as they prepared to take on the host team, University of Health, Science, and Pharmacy.
The Lady Cats took the early lead, but the Eutectics stayed within striking distance. Leading 14-12, Mica Chadwell’s serving prowess combined with Bri Linehan’s powerful swing took over. Five Linehan kills and three aces by Chadwell bumped the Lady Cat lead to 23-13 before a Brooklyn Crawford kill secured the set one win, 25-14.
Set two looked to be a more intense battle from the beginning. The two teams traded points to an 8-8 tie before the Eutectics scored three unanswered points for an 11-8 lead. Paige Durham responded with a kill for the Lady Cats but UHSP answered. The Eutectics continued to hold off the Lady Cat challenges until Brooklyn Crawford took over the hit parade. Five Crawford kills later and one each mixed in by Grace Hancock and Kiley Counts gave the Lady Cats the set, 25-23.
With the momentum of the close win in set two, the Lady Cats came out swinging in set three. The Eutectics hung close at the beginning, but the Lady Cat attack proved to be too much to contain. Leading 8-5, C of O used kills by Crawford and Counts to extend the lead to 12-6. The Lady Cats would not look back as the Eutectics fought to stay alive. Crawford continued to lead the attack and UHSP errors helped seal the win, 25-15, and the match, 3-0.
Bri Linehan and Brooklyn Crawford led the attack with 15 and 14 kills respectively and Kiley Counts chipped in seven. Morgan Austin set up 35 assists and Mica Chadwell continued her defensive dominance with 23 Digs. Chadwell also served up six aces in the match to contribute to the offensive effort.
The Lady Cats are back in action Friday, September 23 at home as they take on University of St. Mary in a 7 PM start. They will host a tri-match with Baptist Bible College and Hannibal-LaGrange on Saturday, September 24, with matches at 11 AM, 1 PM, and 3 PM.