Oct. 31 - BETHANY, W.Va. – By posting 3-0 sweeps over LaRoche and Grove City Saturday in a home tri-match, the Bethany volleyball team not only secured the #5 seed for next week’s PAC Tournament but also clinched their best season in 17 years.
The Bison will now enter the PAC Tournament with a 16-14 overall and 5-9 mark in the conference. It’s the most victories by a Bethany team since the 1992 squad finished 22-15 and took second place in the PAC.
In the opening match of the day, the Bison defeated LaRoche in three convincing sets (25-10, 25-4, 25-11). In the opener, Bethany led 11-7 when consecutive kills by freshman Meredith Holl (Mogadore, Ohio) was followed by two aces from freshman Sarah Slagle (North Canton, Ohio/Perry) to start a 14-3 run to close the set. Another huge BC spurt keyed the second set, as the Bison scored 19 consecutive points to turn a 5-3 lead into 24-3 and they closed it out for a 2-0 advantage. Sophomore Alyssa Schrecengost (Wexford, Pa./Vincentian) was the spark, collecting seven kills in the surge.
The third set did not see a huge push by Bethany, as they gradually pulled away to secure the win. By the end, all 17 Bison who were healthy played. Schrecengost led the hitters with 10 kills, while sophomore Jessica Zavatchen (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) recorded 34 assists and 11 digs and sophomore Tiffany Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn) posted team-highs in digs (14) and aces (three).
The final match of the day was between Bethany and Grove City, with the winner earning the fifth seed for next week’s league playoffs and the loser going in at #6. The Bison never trailed in any of the three sets on their way to 25-20, 25-9, 25-15 wins. To start the match, the teams were tied at 16, but Bethany scored nine of the final 13 points for the win, with the winner coming on a kill from Holl for a 1-0 lead.
The Bison seized control right out of the gate in the second set, scoring the first nine points and bolting to a 13-1 lead behind a pair of blocks from sophomore Carrie Talkington (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) and two kills from freshman Katie Kurtz (Charleroi, Pa.). The duo would also play a role in Bethany finishing off the win, as two more Talkington blocks and an ace from Kurtz made up three of the final four BC points in the set, and the hosts built a commanding 2-0 cushion.
In the clinching set, a trio of putaways by freshman Lauren Goodwill (Canton, Ohio/Jackson) and two from Slagle spearheaded an opening 9-2 run. Once the Bison lead reached 15-5 on a kill by Zavatchen, Grove City never trimmed the deficit to less than eight the rest of the way and Bethany claimed the higher seed for next week’s tournament and their first win over the Wolverines since Aug., 2003, snapping a 16-match losing streak to GCC.
The Bison attack was very balanced, with seven different players recording at least two kills. Schrecengost finished with seven kills, three aces and 10 digs, while Talkington matched her with seven kills and added five solo blocks. Zavatchen had another double-double with 27 assists and 11 digs and the back row efforts were led by Hoffman with 26 digs.
With the win over Grove City, the Bison will travel to fourth-seeded Washington & Jefferson Tuesday night to open the PAC Tournament. Bethany battled the Presidents (15-13, 10-4) in two tough matches this year, losing 3-2 in Washington on Oct. 10 and dropping a 3-1 decision at home Oct. 27. Tuesday’s match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to top-seeded Thomas More next Friday to take on either the Saints or second-seeded Thiel in the semifinals.