Nov. 12 - BETHANY. W.Va. – The Bethany College volleyball team won its second consecutive ECAC South Region Tournament Championship by defeating Swarthmore 3-0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-18) in the semifinals and PAC rival Saint Vincent 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-23) in the championship match Saturday at Hummel Field House.
The Bison, who had already set a new single-season school record for victories, close the season with a 31-6 record. The Green and White won just the fourth ECAC crown in Bethany athletic history, matching the two titles won by men’s soccer in 1995 and 1997.
Bethany’s opening match of the day against third-seeded Swarthmore was a rematch of last year’s ECAC semifinal, which BC rallied from two games down to win 3-2. The opening game Saturday was close early, as the Bison led 16-15 lead before a 9-1 run closed out the first game in BC’s favor. The second game was dominated from start to finish by Bethany, as junior Taylor Cassidy (Barboursville, W.Va./Cabell Midland) hammered four kills in an opening 6-0 spurt and the Garnet (24-8) were never closer than four the rest of the game.
The third game was even at 11-11 before senior Carrie Talkington (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) ripped three kills in a 5-1 surge that gave BC control. Bethany would close out the final game by notching four of the final five points and the Bison were back into the championship match.
Cassidy had a sterling effort in the victory, compiling 13 kills, 11 digs and five blocks. Junior setter Jessica Zavatchen (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) recorded a double-double with 33 assists and 16 digs and the back row charges were paced by senior Tiffany Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn) with 18 digs.
For Swarthmore, who matched its school record for single-season wins with 24, Brone Lobichusky had seven kills, Allison Coleman passed out 16 assists and Hillary Santana totaled a match-best 22 digs.
In the second semifinal, eighth-seeded Saint Vincent (23-12), who knocked off top-seeded DeSales in the opening round of the tournament, continued its upset ways by sweeping fourth-seeded Moravian 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-20). Bearcat setter Devin McGrath recorded 33 assists while feeding a strong front line of Taylor Guido, who had 14 kills, Kayla Stadelman, who totaled 13, and Natalie Hozak, who amassed 12.
The Greyhounds (23-12), who played without starting setter Kelly Brown due to injury, were led up front by Katie Moquete with 11 kills. Filling in at setter was Ashley Schmidt, who had 29 assists and 13 digs and Jesse Krasley recorded 29 digs.
That set the stage for another rematch in the championship, as Bethany beat Saint Vincent 3-0 to capture the 2010 ECAC crown. The Bearcats kept their momentum from the semifinal win by surging late for a 25-21 victory in the opening game to put the Bison in a 1-0 hole.
In the second game, a Cassidy kill ignited a 5-0 run by the Bison to expand their lead to 14-7. The margin grew to as large as nine before Saint Vincent made a late run to get within striking distance. Finally a kill from junior Lauren Goodwill (Canton, Ohio/Jackson) closed the door on SVC and evened the match at 1-1 with a 25-20 Bison win. The third game was controlled by Bethany due to its serving game with four aces, and Cassidy, who delivered six kills, including the clincher in a 25-13 win and Bethany was a game away from repeating.
The final triumph would not come easily, as Bethany squandered a 15-10 lead. Saint Vincent rallied to take a 20-18 lead and looked to be in position to force a fifth and deciding game. The Bison answered with kills from freshman Breana Harris (Severn, Md./Old Mill) and Goodwill to tie the score and then leaned on Cassidy to finish it off. Her kills accounted for four of the final five Bison points, including the last three, and when she delivered her 19th kill of the match for the game-winner, the Bethany bench emptied onto the floor to celebrate the back-to-back ECAC titles.
Cassidy, who also posted a .432 hitting percentage in the final, was selected as the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after amassing 32 kills, 13 digs and seven blocks in the final two matches. Last year’s ECAC Most Outstanding Player, senior Carrie Talkington (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall), completed her brilliant career with 17 kills, seven digs and five blocks in the final, while Goodwill put away 11 kills for BC.
Engineering the Bethany victory was Zavatchen, who registered her seventh double-double in the last eight matches with 48 assists and 17 digs. In addition, she reset her own single-season assist record in the first match of day against Swarthmore. In the backrow, Tiffany Hoffman had 24 kills to lead Bethany, while Megan Hoffman brought up 20, as she became the 12th player in Bethany history to surpass 1,000 career digs (1,002). Senior Jessica Cole (Connellsville, Pa.) also had a fine effort in her last match with 17 digs and two aces.