The College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats hosted the Evangel Valor Tuesday evening at Keeter Gymnasium.
The two teams had not met for the past couple of years and the Bobcat student body came out in force to cheer on the home team.
The Lady Cats jumped on the board first and took an early lead in set one. Evangel responded but the Lady Cat adrenaline was running strong. Kills by Christa Duffel, Bailey Chamberlain, and Grace Hancock built a 7-3 lead, and the Valor needed a timeout to regroup. A trio of Valor errors out of the huddle increased the Lady Cat lead and Evangel needed to respond. A 6-2 run provided the needed answer, and the game was tied 9-9. The tug of war was on, and the teams continued trading points. The Lady Cats were clinging to a slim advantage and a Bailey Chamberlain block for a point put the Lady Cats up 14-12. The Valor continued to challenge but the Lady Cats continued to hold a slight advantage. Ties became the norm and neither team could push ahead. A Lady Cat error gave the Valor their first lead at 18-17 but a Bri Linehan kill knotted the score again. Bailey Chamberlain slammed the next point to the floor and the Lady Cats regained the lead. A Mica Chadwell ace forced a Valor timeout, but the strategy was ineffective as a pair of Linehan kills out of the huddle bumped the score to 22-18. Evangel however, continued to battle as the pressure grew. A pair of Abby Chadwell kills brought up set point and a Bailey Chamberlain block secured the 25-20 Lady Cat win.
The Valor put a tally on the board to open the second set, but a Christa Duffel kill provided the answer. The battle was on, and Evangel was determined to put set two in the win column. A quick burst of five unanswered points gave them a 7-2 lead and the Lady Cats needed to bounce back. With the score 7-4, the Valor turned it on again and scored four straight points. Coach Muckenthaler took a timeout to regroup. A Brooklyn Crawford kill greeted the Valor out of the huddle, but Evangel continued to attack. The Lady Cats could not string points together and Evangel soon led 14-6. The Lady Cats slowly began to chip away at the lead and kills by Chamberlain and Duffel fueled the comeback. A 6-1 run cut the gap to 17-13 but time was running out. Evangel was determined to hold off the challenging Lady Cats and closing the gap became more and more difficult. With Evangel holding a 20-14 advantage, the Lady Cats took another timeout to try and break the momentum. The Evangel attack was too much, and the Lady Cats fell in set two, 25-20.
A Bailey Chamberlain kill opened the scoring in set three and a trio of Valor errors gave the Lady Cats the early 4-0 lead. Evangel broke through but the Lady Cats continued to apply pressure. The Valor responded, but a block by Brooklyn Crawford bumped the lead to 8-3. Clinging to their lead, the Lady Cats were determined to hold the Valor at bay. A Mica Chadwell ace expanded the lead to 12-6 and Evangel needed a timeout. The strategy broke the momentum, but the Lady Cats answered with a Chamberlain kill. Point by point, Evangel challenged, and C of O answered. The Valor were not ready to concede and slowly narrowed the gap. Kills by Chamberlain and Crawford helped maintain the slight advantage, but the tension mounted as the set played out. A Valor error pushed the score to 19-14 and another timeout was the result. The Lady Cats scored first out of the huddle, but Evangel continued to battle. The teams traded points, but Evangel needed a run. A pair of Bri Linehan kills inched the Lady Cats closer to the win. Several diving saves by Mica Chadwell brought up set point and Abby Chadwell slammed home the final point to take the 25-19 win.
With momentum clearly on their side, the Lady Cats were hoping to close out the match in four. A Valor error and a Grace Hancock kill gave the Lady Cats the early lead. Evangel battled back and trading points became the norm once again. The Lady Cats held the upper hand, but Evangel was determined to extend the match to a fifth set. Kills by Linehan and Chamberlain bumped the lead to 10-8 but the Lady Cats could not pull away. The score continued to go back and forth with The Lady Cats holding a slim advantage, until Evangel took their first lead 15-14. The Lady Cats took a timeout to slow the momentum, but Evangel scored the first point out of the huddle. Bri Linehan and Abby Chadwell pounded three straight points to the hardwood and a Valor error forced a timeout for the visitors, now trailing 18-16. Strong play at the net continued and the Lady Cats held the narrow lead. Kills by Abby Chadwell, Crawford, and Chamberlain kept the Lady Cat momentum rolling. Kills by Abby Chadwell and Bailey Chamberlain brought up set point and an Evangel error sealed the 25-20 win, and the 3-1 match win.
In a balanced attack, Bailey Chamberlain led the way with 11 kills, Abby Chadwell recorded 10, Bri Linehan tacked on nine, and Brooklyn Crawford added eight. Kamryn Link contributed 23 assists, while Abby Chadwell chipped in 17. Mica Chadwell was a force on the back row and made multiple diving plays to save points. Her 35 digs led the defensive effort.
The win over Evangel marked the 200th win for Coach Stacy Muckenthaler as the head coach of the Lady Cats. In front of a packed gym, the Lady Cats stepped up to log the win and make it a celebratory night at Keeter Gymnasium.
The Lady Cats are back in action next Wednesday when they travel to William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri.