Nov. 16 – BETHANY, W. Va. – For the fourth-consecutive season, the Bethany College volleyball team has captured an Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship, winning the ECAC Southwest Regional crown by defeating McDaniel College in the semifinal round, and Marymount University in the championship final on Saturday.
In the semifinal match against McDaniel College, the Bison defeated the Green Terror, 3-0. They took the match by game scores of 25-15, 25-19, 25-14.
As has been the custom for the Bison this season, Bethany displayed tremendous defense in the semifinal matchup, holding McDaniel to a .030 hitting percentage in the contest.
In game one, the Bison never trailed, jumping out to a quick, 10-2, lead which included three-consecutive kills by Dylana McKenzie (Hopewell, Ohio/West Muskingum). The Bison then went on to win game one, 25-15, finishing the game on a service ace by Lynsie Mandt (Columbus, Ohio/Worthington Kilbourne) and two kills by Alexis Castro (Lorain, Ohio/Lorain).
In game number two, the Bison trailed 1-0, before going on an 11-6 run, taking a four-point lead on back-to-back kills by Dakota McKenzie (Hopewell, Ohio/West Muskingum) and Mackenzie Lauber (Mansfield, Ohio/Madison Mansfield), 11-7.
McDaniel would then fight back in the second game, pulling even with the Bison at 15-15 before taking a two point lead, 17-15, on a kill from Kloe Martin. Not to be outdone, however, the Bison put together a 10-2 run to end game number two, which included four kills by Dylana McKenzie, to take the second game, 25-19.
Game three was once again all Bison, as the Green & White opened an 18-5 lead and coasted into the championship game with a 25-14 win in the game and a 3-0 match victory.
In the semifinal match, Dylana McKenzie led all players as the only person on the floor with double-digit kills, finishing with 14. Lauber totaled seven while Dakota McKenzie finished with six.
Defensively, Bethany notched 48 digs and five total team blocks, holding the Green Terror to a .030 hitting percentage. Julia Mouch (Toledo, Ohio/Sylvania Southview) led the defense with 12 digs while Lauber finished with seven.
In the championship final the Bison took on the Saints of Marymount University who defeated Grove City College, 3-0, in the other semifinal match. Once again it was the Bison and their stout defense that came out on top, besting the Saints, 3-0.
Bethany held the Saints to a .099 hitting percentage and took the championship game by scores of 25-21, 25-17, 25-14.
In game one, neither team could get much of a lead in the early goings as the Bison and Saints found themselves tied seven times over the first 20 points of the match, including 10-10 after a kill by Marymount’s Erin Allison.
With the game tied at 11, Bethany went on a small, three-point run to expand the lead to the largest it had been over the course of the game, 14-11. The Bison would ride the momentum of that three-point swing the rest of the way, never again trailing in the set, to take game one, 25-21.
In game two, Bethany jumped out to a 10-5 lead on a kill by Kelly Becquet (Finleyville, Pa./Ringgold) and expanded the lead to eight points on a kill by Dakota McKenzie, and back-to-back aces from Mandt to put Bethany in the driver seat, 13-5. Marymount would get as close as four points in the game (17-13) before the Bison went on for the 25-17 victory in game two.
Needing just one more game to capture a fourth-consecutive ECAC crown, the Bison flexed their muscles in game three, notching 17 kills and making just one error as they hit .457 in the game. With Bethany up 21-9, the team got two kills from Sadie Davenport (Newark, Ohio/Lakewood), one kill from Dakota McKenzie, and the championship winning point from Arielle Sanders (Maple Heights, Ohio/Maple Heights) to take game three, 25-14, and the match, 3-0.
In the championship match, the offense was a complete team effort as six different Bison finished with at least four kills. Dylana McKenzie led the way with eight, while Dakota McKenzie finished with seven. Lauber and Breana Harris (Severn, Md./Old Mill) totaled six each while Mandt finished with five, and Castro, four.
Defensively, Mouch carried the load, totaling 20 of the team’s 48 digs in the contest. Becquet finished the game with 11 digs while Haley Santymire (Clifton, Va./Centreville) added five.
“I am really proud of what our girls accomplished out there,” said seventh-year head coach, Courtney Kline, who coached the Bison to their third-consecutive 30+ win season. “Any kind of post season play can be nerve racking for a group as young as we are, but it seemed like none of the girls felt any pressure out there. They just went out and did what they do best.”
For her efforts in leading the strong defensive front, Mouch was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, as she totaled 32 digs over the two contests, including 20 in the championship match.
“I think it was a total team effort out there,” remarked Mouch of the defense. “Coach Kline really gets everyone buying into the defensive mindset, and every body works extremely hard. I am just excited to carry this momentum into the offseason, and more importantly, into next year.”