Bethel Volleyball Can’t Put Away MVNU in League Opener
Mt. Vernon, Ohio – The Pilots took the long trip to face Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Wednesday night and could not put away the hosts in either of the final two sets to fall in an intense five-set Crossroads League conference opener. The Pilots drop to 6-5 (0-1) on the season with the defeat.
Both teams played equal thru the first 16 points of the first set. Kassandra Williams (JR/Lafayette, Ind.), Haley Brown (SR/Goshen, Ind.), and Kristen Mitchell (JR/Indianapolis, Ind.) paced the visitors with eight kills between the veteran trio in the early going. Williams would break the back-and-forth affair with a kill, and an Emma Morey (FR/Battle Creek, Mich.) service ace gave the Pilots some breathing room at 19-16. After the Cougars got a point back, the Pilots scored six of the final eight points of the set to win 25-19. Payton Anderson (JR/New Castle, Ind.) assisted on the final three points, and had eight assists in the opening frame.
Falling behind 3-1 early in the second, Brown got the Pilots back on track and a Williams winner from Anderson gave the Pilots a 10-7 lead. However, the Cougars fought back to take a 16-14 advantage. Great attacking by Malerie Mech (SO/Valparaiso, Ind.) and Brown helped pull the Pilots even at 20, but the Pilot defense couldn’t hold back the Cougars from taking the second set 25-21.
It seemed the Cougars would run away with the third set, taking a 15-9 advantage but the Pilots attack continued to put pressure on the hosts. Cassie Sears (SR/Bremen. Ind.) started a Pilot run that saw them take a 19-18 lead. Mech added three straight kills for the Pilots and three attack errors by MVNU handed the Pilots a hard-fought 25-21 third set.
The fourth set began sloppily for both teams, with multiple errors on either side leading to a 10-10 deadlock. The Pilots battled to try and put away the Cougars before a fifth set, but were unable to do so. A brief 17-16 Pilot lead was short-lived and the Cougars gained momentum as the Pilots committed four errors down the stretch and MVNU knotted the match at two sets apiece with a 25-19 fourth set win.
With the momentum all on the home side, the Cougars dominated the fifth and final set, jumping out to a 10-4 advantage and cruising to a 15-7 win. Payton Anderson kill from Katie Easter (JR/Logansport, Ind.) was the theme in the fifth set with three of the Pilots 7 points coming that way.
Malerie Mech and Haley Brown dominated the Pilot attack with 11 kills each, while Payton Anderson continued her all-around excellence with 10 kills, 25 assists, and 9 digs. Erin Carlos (SR/Millersburg, Ind.) added to her team-leading digs total with 24, while Bridget Downs (SO/Lexington, Ky.) added 17 of her own. Kassandra Williams led with four blocks.
“We lost control in game five. We have to learn to finish games,” stated Head Coach Katie Weiss. “This was a tough loss. We will be working hard to correct our mistakes.”
The Pilots return to action on Friday with a Tri-Match hosted by Aquinas (Mich.) in Grand Rapids. At 3pm they will take on Aquinas, followed by a 5pm matchup against IU Northwest (Ind.).