Sept. 17 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College volleyball team emerged from Saturday’s key Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) tri-match 2-0 after defeating both Thiel (24-26, 25-19, 25-19, 24-26, 15-13) and Saint Vincent (19-25, 25-21, 25-11, 24-26, 15-8) in two five-set thrillers and in the process, continued its undefeated run to open the season.
The Bison (13-0, 4-0) displayed their true willpower in the opening game of Saturday’s tri-match, as they battled their way to the win over Thiel (5-5, 1-1). Nerves may have gotten the best of the Bison as they began the opening set down 0-3. Bethany battled back to a seven-point lead at one time, but couldn’t quite hold on as Thiel rallied back to a 26-24 win.
The second and third set were Bethany’s, as they rolled to a 25-19 win in each with the help of their front line, of which totaled 36 kills between both sets. Junior Taylor Cassidy (Barboursville, W.Va./Cabell Midland), in particular, had a strong opening game, as she recorded a career-high 20 kills over Thiel. Senior co-captain Carrie Talkington (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) and freshman Jordan Fenner (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville North) also contributed each with double digit numbers in kills with 18 and 16 respectively.
The Tomcats emerged victorious in the fourth set 26-24 after a back and forth battle against the Green and White, pushing the match to a fifth and final set. The fifth set proved to be another nail-biter with neither team ever gaining more than a two-point lead. With the final set tied 13-13, Thiel fumbled a tip by Cassidy giving the Bison a 14-13 lead. A powerful strike by Cassidy then gave Bethany the final point to pull away with their third PAC win of the season.
Two other players noticeably contributed in Bethany’s first win of the day over Thiel. Junior Jessica Zavatchen (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands), who recently broke the school’s record in career assists in a win over DePauw, continued to increase her numbers after dishing out a career-high 61 assists. Senior co-captain Tiffany Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn) defended much of Thiel’s attack with a team-high 29 digs.
The Saint Vincent Bearcats (7-4, 0-2) looked to even the score after losing to the rebounding Thiel Tomcats three games to one during the middle match on Saturday. Saint Vincent came out strong in the opening set versus Bethany and fought their way to a 25-19 win. With the help of freshmen Fenner and Breana Harris (Severn, Md./Old Mill), Bethany then countered with a 25-21 win.
The Bison were able to pull ahead two games to one in the third by dominating the Bearcats 25-11 with the help of Cassidy, who slammed down five kills to earn Bethany its final five points. The front line was quiet, however, in the fourth set and recorded only nine total kills. Bethany’s defense, led by senior co-captain Megan Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn) with 25 digs, kept the team in the game but Saint Vincent was able to pull away with a 26-24 win.
The Green and White once again stared their opponent in the face during a final fifth set, but did not falter. With numerous kills by Talkington, Cassidy, Harris, and junior Lauren Goodwill (Canton, Ohio/Jackson), Bethany remained undefeated as they won the final set with a score of 15-8.
Cassidy had another powerful performance as she tied her career-high in kills (20) that she just earned earlier in the day, along with five blocks and eight digs. Zavatchen also continued to play well, as she recorded 54 assists and 22 digs.
The Bison will look to keep their record untouched as they travel to Franciscan (Ohio) University Wednesday, Sept. 21, for a 7 p.m. start.
By: Candace Pacheco Sports Information Student Assistant