Point Lookout, MO - After nearly two weeks without a home match, and facing some talented squads on the road, the Lady Cats returned to the friendly confines of Keeter Gymnasium to face the 11-1 Owls of William Woods University.
The match looked to be a tight one from the onset as the two teams traded the opening points. Kills by Bri Linehan gave the Lady Cats an early lead, but WWU would not let them pull away. Back-to-back kills by Bailey Chamberlain and Christa Duffel bumped the score up to 8-5 and the pressure was on the Owls. An Owl error and kills by Duffel and Grace Hancock built an 11-6 lead, and the Lady Cats were glad to be back home. Kills by Linehan and Brooklyn Crawford added to the lead and the Lady Cats were taking control of the opening set. As the Owls challenged, the Lady Cats continued to respond. Lady Cat blocks at the net were followed by kills and the Owls were forced to take a timeout, trailing 18-11. The Owls came out of the huddle swinging but the Lady Cats answered with a monster Bailey Chamberlain kill. The Owls were not ready to give in, but a kill by Abby Chadwell inched the score closer to 25. A service error by the Owls moved the Lady Cats to within one point of the opening set win and another error sealed the 25-16 win and gave the Lady Cats the early 1-0 lead.
The second set opened with a fired-up Owls team jumping out to an early 5-2 lead. Kills by Brooklyn Crawford and Abby Chadwell kept the Lady Cats close, but the Owls continued to apply pressure. Points added to the visitor’s side forced the Lady Cats to take a timeout to regroup. Trailing 10-4, the Lady Cats were in a hole and needed to start climbing out. The Owls scored the first four points out of the huddle and set two was not looking good for the Lady Cats. Coach Muckenthaler opted to use her last timeout of the set to try and get her team back on track. A service error by the Owls broke through for the Lady Cats but they had a lot of work to do. Point by point, the Owls moved closer to a decisive set two win and the final point made it 25-8.
The Lady Cats needed to bounce back after a rough second set and the early points would set the tone. After a long volley, the Owls took the opening point and then the next three. The Lady Cats were able to break the serve, but the Owls continued to attack. Trailing 9-2, the Lady Cats needed a timeout to try and turn the tide. A Bri Linehan kill out of the huddle gave the Lady Cats some life and a Bailey Chamberlain block for a point built some much-needed momentum. The Owls remained in control, but the Lady Cats were moving in the right direction. A Chamberlain kill cut the gap to 10-6 and an Owl error inched the Lady Cats closer. The Owls answered the challenge with three straight points and the Lady Cats needed to put together a run. Trailing 14-10, a Bailey Chamberlain kill broke the string, but the Owls answered again. Slowly the Lady Cats chipped away at the lead and a pair of blocking points by Crawford and Linehan gave them their first lead, 16-15. A Crawford kill forced a timeout by the Owls and the lead grew to 17-15. The Owls scored first out of the huddle, but a Linehan kill held off the challenge. After trading points, another Linehan kill and an Owl error moved the score to 21-17, forcing a WWU timeout. The tension mounted as the two teams battled to the finish. An Abby Chadwell kill moved the score to 23-18 but the Owls answered with a kill of their own. Kamryn Link drove home a point then an Owl error gave the Lady Cats the set, 25-19.
With momentum on their side, the Lady Cats jumped out to an early 3-1 lead. Not quite ready for the bus ride home, the Owls were determined to battle back. A 9-0 Owl run reversed the momentum, and the Lady Cats needed a timeout. Another point for the Owls spelled even more trouble for the Lady Cats. A pair of Abby Chadwell kills broke the string, but once again, the Lady Cats were in a hole. The Owls quickly responded and continued to apply pressure. Kills by Linehan and Abby Chadwell cut the gap to 14-7 and the Lady Cats needed a run of their own. Like set two, the Owls seemed to have this set well in hand. Four straight Owl points forced another timeout by the Lady Cats, and it looked like a deciding fifth set was eminent. A Bailey Chamberlain kill broke the serve, but the Lady Cats trailed 19-8. The Owls inched their way to the 25-point mark and the Lady Cat challenges were not enough. Set four went to the Owls, 25-12 and the match moved to fifth and deciding set.
With the momentum clearly on the Owl side of the net, the Lady Cats needed to make a quick swing if they were going to get to 15 points. The Owls scored first and added another point before the Lady Cats broke the serve. The Owls climbed out to an early 4-1 lead before Bri Linehan slammed a kill down on the Owl side of the net. The Owls answered with a kill of their own and the Lady Cats trailed 5-2. The Owls continued to apply pressure and the Lady Cats needed to respond. Trailing 8-2, the teams traded sides of the net and it was do or die time for the Lady Cats. The struggles continued for C of O, and it was not looking good for the home team. Three unanswered Lady Cat points showed signs of life and forced an Owl timeout, with the score sitting at 11-6. The strategy was successful, and the Owls scored a pair of points to make it 13-6. A Lady Cat point was answered by an Owl point and the Owls were one point away from the win. That point came too soon, and the Owls took the set, 15-8, and the match 3-2.
Bri Linehan led the offensive attack with 12 kills while Bailey Chamberlain and Abby Chadwell added eight. Brooklyn Crawford contributed seven. Kamryn Link dished out 27 assists and Mica Chadwell recorded 23 digs. Jocee Pettyjohn contributed 18 digs and Abby Chadwell tacked on 12.
The Lady Cats return to action Friday and Saturday in the University of Health< Sciences, and Pharmacy Classic in St. Louis, Missouri.