Second-set spurt not enough in opener of eight-match road trip

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — The longest road trip of the season ended in defeat for the Goshen College women’s volleyball team Friday night in a three-set loss to Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ariel Arena.

The Maple Leafs, fresh off a four-and-a-half-hour bus ride, started the match with three straight points behind an Elizabeth Breckbill kill, an Ally Roehr ace and a Cougar attack error, then stretched their lead back to 4-1 with a block from Breckbill and Hallie Vanitvelt.

Mount Vernon Nazarene (9-12, 1-9 Crossroads League) claimed nine of the next 10 points to reverse that advantage, however, with four kills from Taylor Eash and one more from Breckbill constituting Goshen’s scoring as the Maple Leafs fell behind 21-10. Sydney Cruz chipped in two blocks as part of a 3-0 GC run before the Cougars took the opening set 25-14.

Goshen (8-14, 2-8) used a four-point run to pull ahead early in the second stanza, leading 9-5 on a Vanitvelt kill and eventually 14-10 on Riley Woods’ second winner of the set. Once again, though, MVNU came back to tie the score at 15, getting four different kinds of scores in a 5-1 run, then added four straight points to take the lead en route to a 25-20 win.

The third set was the closest of the three, with the score tied at five of the first seven chances. Mary Kate Harmody found hardwood with consecutive spikes to give the Cougars a 9-7 lead before Regan Nickol’s ace prompted a Maple Leaf timeout.

Hallie Vanitvelt came back with a kill to get GC the sideout, but it would prove too little, too late as the Cougars eventually posted a 12-5 run to lead 19-12. Vanitvelt, Eash and MacKinnon Tracy all posted Maple Leaf points the rest of the way, but the Cougars closed out a 74-minute match with a 25-19 win.

Nicole Winkler of MVNU and Taylor Eash of Goshen led all players with 11 kills apiece while GC’s Ally Roehr paced both sides with 18 assists. Three Maple Leafs finished in double digits in the digs column, led by 14 from Tracy, but Cougar Katelyn Dufur posted a match-high 19.

Taylor Eash’s 11 kills matched her career high set August 29 against Huntington; Woods’ 5 winners were her third-most of the season but most since the opening weekend.