Sept. 7 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After opening the season with four wins on the road, the Bethany College volleyball team kept up its winning ways when it returned home, as the Bison swept Chatham (25-10, 25-7, 25-9) and Penn State-Fayette (25-23, 25-15, 25-12) in a tri-match at Hummel Field House Wednesday night.
The first match against Chatham was also the opening PAC tilt of the season and the Bison (6-0, 1-0) rolled to the win. The first set was even at 5-5 until BC ripped off nine consecutive points, which featured a pair of kills from junior Taylor Cassidy (Barboursville, W.Va./Cabell Midland) and three from senior Carrie Talkington (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall). The Bison closed out the opening set on an ace from freshman Lynsie Mandt (Columbus, Ohio/Worthington Kilbourne).
Bethany’s service game was the story of the second set, as the Bison nailed seven aces, including three straight by junior Katie Kurtz (Charleroi, Pa.) and the Green and White pulled away to win the second set. In the third set, the Bison leaned heavily on junior Meredith Holl (Mogadore, Ohio) and their talented freshmen, as five different players posted kills and Bethany closed out the sweep.
Eleven different players registered kills in the victory, led by freshman Jordan Fenner (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville North) with seven and Mandt with six. Junior setter Jessica Zavatchen (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) passed off 33 assists and matched senior Tiffany Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn) for team-high with eight digs.
The middle match saw Penn State-Fayette take out Chatham in three and the Roaring Lions used that momentum to throw a scare into the Bison in their first set. Bethany led by as many as eight at 14-6, but Fayette rallied and behind a 10-2 spurt, went ahead 20-19. The teams exchanged points and after BC went back in front with three straight, they closed out the set 25-23 on a kill by junior Lauren Goodwill (Canton, Ohio/Jackson).
The second set stayed close for awhile until a late Bethany push gave the home team a 2-0 lead. The Lions (7-2) were within a point at 13-12, but the Bison scored four straight to build a solid cushion and closed the set with a 6-1 run, highlighted by a pair of kills from Cassidy. The service game was again instrumental in the final set’s outcome, as four aces, including two from Talkington, sparked a 12-3 surge and BC finished off the set to open the season 6-0 for the second straight year.
After the youthful Bison led the way in the opener, the Bethany veterans highlighted the second match. Goodwill hammered 11 kills and had zero errors in 22 attacks, while Cassidy delivered 10 kills and Talkington turned in nine, as well as four blocks at the net. In the back row, Tiffany Hoffman was the lone Bison to reach double figures in digs with 14.
Zavatchen had another solid performance, collecting 38 assists and bringing up nine digs. Although just a junior, Zavatchen now stands at 2,601 career assists and needs only 35 more to surpass the all-time Bethany record of 2,635 set by Acacia Iwaniec (1998-01).
The record will likely fall this weekend when Bethany returns to action at the Rose-Hulman Tournament in Indiana. In addition to the assists record, the Bison can match their best start in school history at 7-0 when they take on DePauw at 2 p.m. Saturday and Eureka at 4 p.m. The tournament will conclude for Bethany Sunday with matches against Ohio Wesleyan at 11 a.m. and Wilmington (Ohio) at 1 p.m.