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Lady Cats Earn Automatic Berth to NAIA National Championships with Conference Title

Nov 11, 2023


Temple Terrace, FL - College of the Ozarks Lady Cat Volleyball traveled to Temple Terrace, Florida this week for the Continental Athletic Conference tournament and cruised through the pool play round with three wins.

C of O vs Florida College – Thursday, November 9
The Lady Cats opened pool play against the top seed and tournament host, Florida College Falcons. Set one saw the Lady Cats score the first three points for the early lead. The Falcons battled back but the Lady Cats continued to maintain a slight advantage. Kills by Bri Linehan, Bailey Chamberlain, Grace Hancock, and Brooklyn Crawford led the way, and the Lady Cats held a 15-12 lead. Linehan and Emma Godwin slammed home a pair of points and soon the lead was boosted to 18-12. Mica Chadwell stepped up to an offensive roll and served five straight points before Linahan finished off the set with a kill. The Lady Cats took the opening set 25-14.

Set two looked very similar to set one from the opening serve, but the Falcons soon made it clear they were not ready to concede. Kills by Linehan, Godwin, and Chamberlain helped the Lady Cats build a 12-8 advantage, but the Falcons quickly responded. The score was soon tied 13-13 and the momentum was clearly on the side of the home team. A 4-1 Falcon run landed the Lady Cats in a 17-14 hole, and they needed to find an answer. A pair of Falcon errors were followed by a duo of Linehan kills and the Lady Cats were applying pressure. The Falcons responded with three unanswered points before the Lady Cats came charging back. Trailing 21-18, the Lady Cats used kills by Kamryn Link, and Bailey Chamberlain to claw their way to a 24-21 lead. The Lady Cats completed the comeback on the next point and took set two, 25-23.

Set three was a tug of war as the two teams traded points early on. With the score tied 10-10, the Lady Cats turned up the pressure and scored three unanswered points. Claiming the momentum, C of O had just enough gap to gain control of the set. The Falcon challenges were met with strong resistance, and they were unable to overcome the Lady Cat attack. The Lady Cats edged their way to a 23-21 lead and kills by Emma Godwin and Bri Linehan secured the set win 25-21, and the match 3-0.

Bri Linehan paced the offense with 10 kills, Mica Chadwell led the defense with 22 digs, and Kamryn Link set up 21 assists in the win.

C of O vs Haskell Indian Nations University – Thursday, November 9
Facing a familiar foe, the Lady Cats next opponent would be the Indians of Haskell Indian Nations University.

The Lady Cats carried their opening match momentum into set one and quickly built a 9-3 lead. Haskell found some rhythm, however, and began to chip away at the lead. Kills by Linehan, Chamberlain, Godwin, and Crawford paced the Lady Cats, and they maintained a 15-9 advantage. Haskell continued to challenge, and four straight points cut the Lady Cat lead to 15-13. A Linehan kill broke the string, but Haskell continued to apply pressure. The teams traded points to six more ties before the Lady Cats benefited form a pair of Haskell errors and took set one, 25-23.

Set two was more of the same as the two teams traded points from the opening serve. With the score knotted at 8-8, Bailey Chamberlain led the attack to score three unanswered points to provide a small cushion. The gap was just enough, and the Lady Cats battled to maintain their advantage. The Indians fought to overcome the deficit, but the Lady Cats would not relinquish the lead. Taking set two, 25-22, the Lady Cats were in a good position heading to set three.

More back and forth competition ensued in set three and neither team was willing to budge. The teams traded points to a 14-14 tie with kills by Godwin, Chamberlain, and Crawford keeping the Lady Cats in contention. A Haskell kill swung the momentum to the Indians and the Lady Cats were on the defensive. Haskell continued to apply pressure and despite kills by Linehan, Godwin, and Hancock, the Lady Cats were unable to overcome the gap. Haskell took set three, 25-19.

With momentum on their side, the Indians broke out to an early lead in set four. Point by point, the Indians bult a lead and the Lady Cats could not find an answer. The Indians quickly climbed to an 18-9 lead before a Brooklyn Crawford kill provided some hope. Godwin and Linehan pounded points home and the Lady Cats clawed their way back to an 18-14 gap. The Indians accepted the challenge and regrouped. The Lady Cats made a valiant effort to comeback for the win, but the Indians held them off for a 25-18 win.

Now deadlocked at two sets each, the match came down to a fifth and final set to 15. The Indians had just won two straight and it appeared the Lady Cats were in trouble. A Coach Muckenthaler pep talk inspired the Lady Cats to bounce back, and they used kills by Crawford and Linehan to jump out to an early 3-1 lead. Haskell was now on the defensive and looking for answers. Chamberlain and Godwin joined the hit parade and the Lady Cats climbed to a 10-5 lead. Haskell tried to stay close, but that was all they could do. Errors by the Indians were costly and kills by Hancock and Linehan wrapped up the set win, 15-11, and the match, 3-2.

Bri Linehan led the way with 15 kills, while Bailey Chamberlain and Emma Godwin added 13, and 11 respectively. Mica Chadwell dominated the back row with 43 digs and Kamryn Link set up 49 assists.

C of O vs Florida National University – Friday, November 10
Now one win away from being the top seed in the semifinals, the Lady Cats were looking to take care of business. Standing in the way was Florida National University.

The opening set saw the Lady Cats use kills by Christa Duffel and Kamryn Link to jump out to a quick 9-3 lead. Florida National soon found some rhythm and chipped away at the Lady Cat lead. With Florida National knocking on the door and now only trailing 10-8, Grace Hancock and Brooklyn Crawford provided kills that gave the Lady Cats a much-needed boost. Florida National attempted to battle back, but the Lady Cat attack was too much. Kills by Duffel, Chamberlain, and Link solidified the win, and the Lady Cats took the opening set, 25-18.

Florida National came out fighting in set two and quickly turned the tables. An early 8-4 Lady Cat deficit sent the momentum to the side of Florida National. Unable to overcome the momentum shift, The Lady Cats found themselves trailing 19-14, and time was running out. Kills by Chamberlain and Hancock were combined with a trio of Florida National errors and the Lady Cats were in business. FNU answered but the Lady Cats continued to attack. A pair of Brooklyn Crawford kills were combined with back-to-back service aces from Kamryn Link and the Lady Cats regained control. Leading 23-22, Crawford and Duffel slammed kills to the FNU side of the net, and the Lady Cats took set two, 25-23.

Set three was a battle from the opening serve and the teams traded points. Multiple ties and several lead changes intensified the battle through the midway point. With the score knotted at 19-19, Grace Hancock delivered a kill that would give the Lady Cats a lead. It was short lived however, as FNU quickly responded with three unanswered points of their own. With the risk of extending the match on the line, Bri Linehan stepped up with a pair of kills and Mica Chadwell delivered a service ace for the final point. The Lady Cats took set three, 25-23, and the match, 3-0.

Christa Duffle led the offense with nine kills. Kamryn Link dished out 30 assists, and Mica Chadwell anchored the defense with 20 digs. Jocee Pettyjohn added 12 digs in the win.

Semifinal - C of O vs Florida National University – Saturday, November 11
Having swept their way through pool play, and now one win away from competing in the conference championship match, the Lady Cats were set to face Florida National University in the semifinal match.

The Lady Cats set the tone early and jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Riding their momentum from pool play, they continued to apply pressure and Florida National could not find and answer. Kills by Bri Linehan, Brooklyn Crawford, Bailey Chamberlain, and Grace Hancock paced the offense, and the lead soon grew to 15-5. Florida National was totally out of sync and the Lady Cats continued to dominate. A service ace by Anna Howe was combined with kills from Christa Duffel and Bailey Chamberlain, and the opening set went to the Lady Cats, 25-10.

Florida National regrouped for the second set and the teams traded early points to a 4-4 tie. Mica Chadwell served up four unanswered points and the Lady Cats built a small lead. FNU tried to overcome the Lady Cat attack, but it was too much and kills by Crawford, Chamberlain, Linehan, and Duffel carried the Lady Cats to a set two win, 25-20.

With their backs to the wall, Florida National came out fighting in the third set and an early 3-0 deficit faced the Lady Cats. Grace Hancock put the Lady Cats on the board with a kill, and Anna Howe followed with three straight aces to build a 4-3 lead. FNU quickly answered and soon regained the lead. The teams battled to a 10-10 tie before kills by Hancock and Linehan gave the Lady Cats a 12-10 advantage. The best FNU could do the rest of the way was keep pace. They Lady Cats answered each challenge and kills by Chamberlain, Hancock, and Linehan secured the 25-19 win and the 3-0 sweep.

Linehan and Crawford led the attack with nine kills each and Bailey Chamberlain added eight. Mica Chadwell recorded 24 digs and Jocee Pettyjohn and Kamryn Link each chipped in 10. Link also contributed 33 assists in the win.

Championship - C of O vs Haskell Indian Nations University – Saturday, November 11
Having split their two meetings during the regular season, and the Lady Cats winning the earlier CAC pool play matchup, The Indians of Haskell Indian Nations University and the College of the Ozarks Bobcats were set to square off for the Continental Athletic Conference Tournament championship. With an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championship Tournament on the line, both teams were primed and ready for an intense battle.

The opening set seemed to be all Haskell from the opening serve as they jumped out to an early lead. The Lady Cats clawed their way back to a 6-6 tie, but the Indians continued to hold off the challenges. Kills by Bri Linehan, Christa Duffel, and Brooklyn Crawford kept the Lady Cats close, but they were unable to overcome the early deficit. Haskell took the opening set 25-19.

Bri Linehan opened set two with a kill and the determined Lady Bobcats were on the prowl. The tables were turned in set two and the Lady Cats took the early advantage and claimed the momentum. Kills by Madelyn Sestak, Duffel, Hancock, and Crawford helped the Lady Cats climb to a 13-7 lead and they would not look back. A series of HINU errors led to a pair of kills by Grace Hancock to secure the win, 25-16.

Set three was a near carbon copy of set two as the Lady Cats pounced early for a 7-1 lead. Haskell recovered and began to chip away at the lead. Four unanswered points cut the lead to 10-7 and the battle was on. The Lady Cats continued to attack and a pair of 3-0 runs were sandwiched around a HINU point. Leading 15-8, the Lady Cats were in control. Kills by Linehan and Hancock were followed by a Kamryn Link ace, and the Lady Cats were on their wat to a 26-16 set three win.

The Lady Cats held the upper hand, but the Indians were not ready to concede. Determined to not allow the match to be cut short by a Lady Cat victory in set four, the Indians stepped up to claim the momentum. A quick 3-1 Haskell lead called for a response from the Lady Cats. Crawford and Linehan provided kills and an Anna Howe service ace got the ball rolling. The teams traded points to a 12-12 tie before Haskel put several points together to go up 16-13. The Lady Cats would battle back to tie the score at 17-17, but Haskell cut off the Lady Cat rally. Things began to go the way of the Indians and set four ended with a 25-20 HINU win.

The Conference Championship and NAIA berth came down to a set to 15 points and HINU seemed to have the momentum. Bri Linehan quickly squelched the momentum however, with a kill slammed to the floor on the Haskell side of the net. Kills by Chamberlain, Craford, and Linehan kept the score close, and the Lady Cats held a slim advantage. It was clear the championship set would go down to the wire, and neither team was ready to give in. With the score tied at 15-15, the Lady Cats forced back-to-back Haskell errors and took the final set, 16-14, and the match 3-2.

Brooklyn Craford led the offense with 16 kills while Bri Linehan, Christa Duffel, and Grace Hancock slammed down 11, 10, and nine respectively. Kamryn Link set up 47assists and Mica Chadwell led the defense with 38 digs. Josee Pettyjohn added 17 digs in the win.

The Lady Cats will now travel to Orange City, Iowa to take on the Raiders of Northwestern College. The NAIA Opening round match will be played at 1:00 Saturday, November 18.