BETHANY BEATS THOMAS MORE TO ADVANCE TO PAC VOLLEYBALL FINAL
Nov. 4 - BEAVER FALLS, Pa. – The Bethany College volleyball team advanced to the PAC Tournament Championship match for the first time in school history by outlasting Thomas More for a 3-2 victory (25-18, 29-27, 19-25, 18-25, 15-11) Friday night in the conference semifinals, which were held at Geneva.
The Bison (28-5), who tied the single-season school record for victories, will take on top-seeded Geneva (26-8) in the title match Saturday at 4 p.m. Both teams will be looking for their first PAC championship, as the Golden Tornadoes are in their first year in the conference after transitioning from the NAIA.
In the opening game, the Bethany hitters controlled the action, collecting 17 kills. Senior Carrie Talkington (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) pounded down seven to lead the way, including three straight to give the Green and White a 16-14 lead they never relinquished. The kills also ignited a 12-4 run to close the game, as the Bison went in front 1-0.
The Saints looked like they would draw even in the second, as they took a 23-18 lead. After a pair of BC points, Thomas More scored again and was serving for the match at 24-20. Bethany stormed back with five consecutive points to go in front 25-24. The teams began exchanging points, which led to a 27-27 tie. Following a TMC error, the Bison finally claimed the match on an ace by senior Tiffany Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn) and BC was one game away from moving on to the title match.
That win would not come easily. Thomas More recovered from a 0-2 deficit in Tuesday’s quarterfinal to beat #6 Saint Vincent and looked to rewrite that script. In the third game, four straight points by the Saints gave them a 14-8 lead and Bethany could not get closer than four the rest of the way before TMC closed out a 25-19 victory. In the fourth game, Thomas More used a 7-1 spurt to take a 21-12 advantage and held off a Bison rally for a 25-18 win to force the fifth and deciding game.
The final game went back-and-forth throughout. The Bison scored the first four points, which was answered by three in a row by Thomas More. Bethany tallied three straight, but the Saints ripped off seven of the next eight to take their largest lead of the game at 10-8. The Bison made the final run of the night, scoring seven of the final 10 points to pull out the win. The final score came on a kill by junior Taylor Cassidy (Barboursville, W.Va./Cabell Midland), sending BC into the championship match and giving them 28 wins to tie the total first posted by the 1987 team that went 28-22.
Four Bison compiled double-digit kills in the victory, led by Talkington with 19 and she also posted five blocks. Junior Lauren Goodwill (Canton, Ohio/Jackson) delivered 14 kills and Cassidy and freshman Breana Harris (Severn, Md./Old Mill) both recorded 11. Junior setter Jessica Zavatchen (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) triggered the offense with another big night, passing out 54 assists and also finished with 14 digs and three blocks.
Bethany’s backrow efforts were sparked by Tiffany Hoffman with 30 digs. In addition, senior Jessica Cole (Connellsville, Pa.) chipped in 21 digs and senior Megan Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn) amassed 16.
Saturday’s Bethany-Geneva contest will be the rubber match between the teams this year. The Bison won the first meeting between the teams on Oct. 1 by a 3-1 score behind 16 kills from Talkington and 41 assists from Zavatchen, which was the only loss suffered by the Golden Tornadoes in the conference this year. The GTs earned their revenge with a 3-1 triumph in Beaver Falls on Oct. 20.