Oct. 28 - BETHANY, W.Va. –For the second consecutive match, the Bethany College volleyball team came agonizingly close to taking down a higher seeded PAC rival, but came up just short with a 3-2 setback (25-20, 21-25, 25-19, 22-25, 13-15) to visiting Westminster Thursday night in their final regular season home match.
With the loss, the Bison fall to 20-12 overall, 8-7 in the conference and are locked into the #5 seed for next week’s PAC Tournament. The Titans improve to 17-11 for the year, 12-3 in the league and clinch no worse than the #3 seed for the playoffs.
Bethany rode a big first set from junior Carrie Talkington (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) to a 1-0 lead. She hammered four kills and a pair of aces to spark BC to an early lead and then a trio of kills from sophomore Lauren Goodwill (Canton, Ohio/Jackson) and two from sophomore Jessica Zavatchen (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) helped put the opening set away.
Junior Jessica Cole (Connellsville, Pa.), Talkington and sophomore Taylor Cassidy (Barboursville, W.Va./Cabell Midland) all had three kills in the second set, but Westminster drew even with a 25-21 win. Bethany seized control of the third set immediately, as they ripped off the first five points. The Titans moved within two at 13-11, but consecutive kills by Talkington, Cole, sophomore Katie Kurtz (Charleroi, Pa.) and Talkington again swelled the cushion to six and Bethany scored a 25-19 win to take a 2-1 advantage.
With their backs against the wall, Westminster responded with a 5-1 run early in the fourth set to take a 10-6 lead and force the Bison to play from behind the whole set. Bethany made several runs at the Titans, but never moved closer than one and Westminster survived with a 25-22 decision to force a fifth set.
On Tuesday, Bethany also took the current #2 seed in the league Thiel to five sets before falling and the Bison dug themselves a big hole in the deciding set against Westminster. After a thunderous kill from Talkington cut the BC deficit to 6-5, the Titans rattled off six straight to build a 12-5 lead. Bethany came storming back behind four kills from sophomore Meredith Holl (Mogadore, Ohio) and another from Cole to slice the Titan lead to 13-12. After Westminster scored to get to match point, another Cole kill made it 14-13. However, Westminster would finally put the match away with the game-winning point to close out the heart-stopping match.
Leading the Bethany attack was Talkington, who set a career-high with 19 kills and added seven total blocks and two aces. It was her ninth consecutive match in double digit kills and the third time during this stretch that she has set a career-high. Also hitting double figure kills was Cassidy and Holl with 11 each and Cole had 10, as well as 13 digs to make it a double-double.
Zavatchen just missed a double-double by amassing 48 assists and nine digs. Junior Tiffany Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn) led the defense with 25 digs, which gives her exactly 1,500 for her career and moves her past Lorraine Ramhoff (1,498) for fourth place on the school’s career digs list. Junior Megan Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn) finished with 22 and Kurtz brought up 20 in the loss as well.
The Bison will close out the regular season Saturday with a road match at Washington & Jefferson at 2 p.m., and a win would give them a school-record for conference victories in a season. Then Bethany can prepare for their quarterfinal match in the PAC Tournament next Tuesday, which will be at #4 seed Saint Vincent, a team BC split with during the regular season.