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Lady Cat Volleyball Wraps Up Season at NCCAA Nationals

Dec 05, 2022

#8 Grace Hancock

#2 Kiley Counts

#1 Morgan Austin

#3 Leatha Keller

CofO vs Mid-America Christian University

After nearly a four-week layoff from game action, the College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcat Volleyball team stepped back on the court at Keeter Gymnasium, focused on the goal of a National Championship. The National Christian College Athletic Association partnered with College of the Ozarks to host the Division I Women’s Volleyball National Championship Tournament and the Lady Cats opened play Thursday afternoon with pool play.

Taking on the #3 seed, Mid-America Christian University Evangels, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the Lady Cats knew they would need their “A” game in order to advance out of pool play to day two of the tournament.

The Evangels jumped out to an early lead, but the Lady Cats quickly responded and used kills by Bailey Chamberlain and Kiley Counts to pull even. The teams traded points until the Bobcat attack took over and the Evangels were forced to take a timeout, trailing 15-10. The Lady Cats continued to apply pressure out of the huddle and the Evangels struggled to find an answer. A Brooklyn Crawford ace increased the lead to 23-16 but MACU would not go away. A 3-0 MACU run followed, before the Lady Cats used a Grace Hancock kill to put them within one point of the opening set win. The Evangels continued to battle back, and the lead was reduced to 24-22. The Lady Cats took a timeout to break the momentum, but a Lena Stockhammer kill out of the huddle cut the lead to 24-23. Another MACU kill tied the score and the Lady Cats took another timeout. With the momentum clearly on the side of the Evangels, the Lady Cats needed to respond. A Lady Cat net violation gave the lead to the Evangels and another kill gave the set to MACU, 26-24.

With the opening set slipping away from the Lady Cats, they needed to regroup and bounce back in set two. MACU scored first but the Lady Cats answered. MACU continued to hold the momentum, however, and the advantage as the Lady Cats trailed in the early going and could not string together points. After a 2-2 tie, the Evangels put together a 7-0 run and the Lady Cats needed a timeout. The Evangels scored two more unanswered points before a service error broke the serve. MACU quickly answered and the Lady Cats had work to do. Trailing 12-5, A Brooklyn Crawford kill cut the gap and a Kiley Counts ace gave the Lady Cats some life.  Battling back to a 15-11 score, the Lady Cat surge forced a MACU timeout. A Lady Cat point out of the huddle was answered by the Evangels and the Lady Cats need to put together a run. A Kiley Counts block for a point cut the gap to 18-16, but MACU responded. The Lady Cats continued to battle but MACU inched closer to the needed 25 points for the set win. A Grace Hancock kill cut the gap to one, 20-19, but the string of points together was elusive. A Morgan Austin kill was met with immediate Evangels’ resistance and set point arrived with the Lady Cats trailing 24-20. A Grace Hancock kill extended the set and a Morgan Austin followed with a kill to cut the gap to 24-22. MACU called a timeout and the strategy proved beneficial as they took the next point to end the set, 25-22.

With their backs against the wall, the Lady Cats opened the scoring in set three. The lead was short lived, however, as MACU immediately responded. The teams began trading points and neither team could grab the early momentum. The Lady Cats held a slim advantage as the set progressed and a Brooklyn Crawford kill put the Lady Cats up 9-7. The back-and-forth battle continued, and the Lady Cats were unable to pull away. A Micah Chadwell ace extended the lead to 13-10, but MACU took the next point to break the serve. MACU took their first lead, 15-14, on a Riley Bowden service ace and a pair of Evangels’ kills followed to force a Lady Cat timeout. Now Trailing 17-14, C of O needed to claw their way back. A MACU service error was followed by a Grace Hancock kill and the Lady Cats were on top, 19-18. MACU called a timeout to regroup and took the next four points out of the huddle to regain control. The Lady Cats called a timeout and broke the serve with the next point. MACU continued to apply pressure, but the Lady Cats fought back. Unable to get over the hump, the Lady Cats could not break the MACU momentum and fell 25-21 in set three and 3-0 in the match.

Grace Hancock led the offensive attack with nine kills, followed by Bailey Chamberlain and Brooklyn Crawford with seven and six respectively. Mica Chadwell anchored the defense with 24 digs followed by 16 for Kiley Counts and 10 for Morgan Austin.

C of O vs Trinity International University
In their second match of the day, the Lady Cats were set to take on the #2 seed Trojans of Trinity International University.

The Lady Cats jumped on the board first and after an intense and lengthy volley, scored the second point of the match as well. TIU wasted little time breaking through to put a point on the board. The Lady Cats continued to apply pressure to the higher seed, but the tug of war was on. The score was soon knotted at 4-4 and the teams began trading points, with neither team able to establish a run. Bri Linehan slammed a kill to the floor on the Trojan side of the net and Brooklyn Crawford followed with a kill of her own and the Lady Cat lead was up to 9-7. Trinity continued to answer the attack of the Lady Cats and the score was tied 11-11, nearing the midway point of the opening set. With solid play at the net, the Lady Cats continued to hold a slight advantage as trading points was the norm. Point for point the teams matched each other and another long volley fell on the Trojan’s side, resulting in a 19-19 tie. It was clear this set would go down to the wire. TIU held the slight advantage and the Lady Cats needed to find a way to pull ahead as the score climbed toward 25. TIU scored a couple of unanswered points and trailing 23-21, the Lady Cats were needing to respond. A pair of Trojan errors tied the score at 23-23 and TIU wanted a timeout to break the momentum of the Lady Cats. A TIU kill brought set point and a Lady Cat error ended the opening set, 25-23.

A Trinity service error started set two and a Grace Hancock kill put the Lady Cats up 2-0. TIU quickly responded and the set picked up where the opening set left off. Several lengthy volleys resulted in a 7-7 score and challenges were answered on both sides of the net.  A Brooklyn Crawford kill, and a Trojan error gave the Lady Cats a 9-7 lead, but TIU responded to cut the deficit. The teams were battling, and both were determined to gain the upper hand. The Lady Cats built their biggest lead of the set, 15-11, with a Bailey Chamberlain kill and a pair of Trojan errors. Needing to keep the Lady Cat momentum in check, the Trojans took a timeout in an effort to reverse the recent trend. TIU scored out of the huddle to break up the Lady Cat run, but C of O responded to maintain the lead. A Grace Hancock kill kept the momentum alive, but TIU continued to apply pressure. A TIU rally cut the Lady Cat lead to 18-17 and the competition began to intensify. A Brooklyn Crawford kill boosted the lead to 20-18 and a Kiley Counts service ace inched the Lady Cats closer to the goal. A TRIO of unanswered Trojan points tied the score at 21-21 and a TIU kill gave them the late advantage. A Lady Cat timeout was to no effect as the Trojans scored the next two points out of the huddle. Continuing to battle, the Lady Cats could not stall the attack of the Trojans and TIU took set two, 25-22.

After two intense and very competitive sets, the Lady Cats found themselves in a 2-0 hole. Set three was do or die time for the Lady Cats and the tug of war was on from the opening serve. The Lady Cats held a slight advantage, and a 3-0 run built a 7-4 Lady Cat lead. TIU quickly responded and soon tied the score 7-7. A pair of Trojan kills gave TIU their first lead and the Lady Cats trailed 9-7. A TIU error reduced the deficit back to one and the competition continued.  Grace Hancock slammed home a kill, but the Trojans continued to apply pressure. Trailing 11-9, Coach Muckenthaler called a timeout to reinforce the focus and determination of the Lady Cats. Points went back and forth as the battle moved on. A Kiley Count
kill was answered by a TIU kill and the Trojans maintained their two-point advantage. A pair of Brooklyn Crawford kills, and a Trinity error pulled the Lady Cats even, but TIU responded to the challenge and held a 16-15 lead. The Lady Cats remained persistent and a Bre Linehan block for a point gave the Lady Cats an 18-17 lead, forcing a TIU timeout. Another pair of lengthy rallies ended in Trinity points and the result was a 22-19 TIU lead and a Lady Cat timeout. A Bre Linehan kill out of the huddle cut the gap, but the Lady Cats had very little room for error. A Trinity error reduced the deficit to 22-21 but a Trojan kill bumped it back up.  A pair of “never give up” points by the Lady Cats tied the score at 23-23 and TIU took a timeout. A Trojan kill out of the huddle pushed the Lady Cats to the brink of elimination. With one point to go, a Kiley Counts kill extended the set, 24-24. A Brooklyn Crawford and Morgan Austin block for a point gave the Lady Cats the lead before a TIU kill tied it once again. Lengthy volleys followed and the determination to continue playing kept the Lady Cats alive. Point by point the battle continued until TIU scored a pair of unanswered points to take the set 30-28 and the match 3-0.

In what was the best set by set match of the first day of the tournament, the Lady Cats gave the #2 seed all they could handle and competed to the very end without giving up. The effort of the Lady Cats was one to be proud of as the career of seniors Morgan Austin, Leatha Keller, and Kiley Counts came to an end. The future is bright for the young Lady Cats, and they will be able to take the experiences of this season and build on them for the future.

Brooklyn Crawford, Grace Hancock, and Kiley Counts led the offense with nine, eight, and seven kills respectively. Morgan Austin set up 28 assists and Micah Chadwell led the defensive effort with 26 digs, Leatha Keller recorded 21, Kiley Counts 18, and Grace Hancock contributed 11.