Oct. 27 – BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College volleyball team closed the regular season on a down note Thursday with a 3-2 loss (25-16, 18-25, 28-26, 24-26, 11-15) to visiting Thomas More on Senior Night at Hummel Field House.
While the loss drops the Bison records to 27-5 overall and 14-4 in the PAC, BC has still clinched the #2 seed and a bye into the semifinals of the PAC Tournament next week. The Saints improved to 17-10 and 12-5 in the conference with the victory.
Bethany came out rolling in the first game, as three straight kills by senior Carrie Talkington (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) helped ignite a 9-2 opening surge. The Saints moved as close as four, but BC, who delivered 17 kills in the opening game, finished off the opener on a putaway by freshman Breana Harris (Severn, Md./Old Mill).
The only BC lead in the second game came on a kill from junior Lauren Goodwill (Canton, Ohio/Jackson) for a 5-4 advantage. Thomas More answered back with four straight points and didn’t trail again the rest of the game. Junior Taylor Cassidy’s (Barboursville, W.Va./Cabell Midland) kill made it 16-15 Saints, but TMC took the game with a 9-3 spurt, including the final four points, for a 25-18 triumph.
The third game was close from start to finish. A three-point TMC lead was quickly erased early in the set and sparked by two aces from senior Tiffany Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn), the Green and White seemed to have control at 20-17. Thomas More came right back to tie the score at 21 and the teams began exchanging points. Bethany served for the match three times, but finally a Talkington kill ended the game 28-26 in BC’s favor and they were one game away from the win.
The Saints would fend off a late Bison rally in the fourth game to send it the distance. Thomas More surged out to a 15-11 lead and Bethany finally rallied to tie the score at 24 following a Cassidy kill and a Tiffany Hoffman ace. But TMC recovered to score two quick points and take a 26-24 decision to force a fifth game.
Bethany grabbed a 7-5 lead to start the final game, but TMC scored four straight and eight of the next 10 to go in front 13-9. Kills by Goodwin and Harris kept the Bison alive, but Thomas More closed out the final game 15-11 and handed the Green and White its first home loss of the season in 10 contests.
The match saw big numbers from numerous Bison, highlighted by Talkington. She pounded 14 kills, brought up eight digs and had six assisted blocks. That gives her 241 for her career and breaks the school record held by Robin Sayre (237) since 1989.
Leading Bethany in kills was Cassidy with 16, while Goodwill turned in 13 and a hitting percentage of .406. Junior Jessica Zavatchen (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) passed off 55 assists and made it a double-double with 17 digs. It was a big night in the Bison backrow, with five players turning in double-digit digs. The team-high was posted by Tiffany Hoffman, who set a career-high with 39 and she also served a BC-best four aces.
Other strong games on defense were recorded by senior Jessica Cole (Connellsville, Pa.) with 17 digs and 11 kills, senior Megan Hoffman (Cambridge, Ohio/John Glenn) with 16 digs and freshman Kelly Becquet (Finleyville, Pa./Ringgold) with 14.
With the regular season concluded and a bye into the PAC Tournament semifinals, Bethany now has an extended break. The Bison will not be in action again until Friday, Nov. 5 in the conference playoffs, which will be held at top-seeded Geneva (Pa.) College. The game time and BC opponent are still to be determined.