Pilots End Six-Match Skid Against Trojans
Mishawaka, Ind. – The Bethel women’s volleyball team hosted Taylor on Wednesday, having lost their previous six matches to the Trojans dating to 2014, but came away with an impressive five-set win 23-25, 24-26, 25-16, 20-25, 17-15, to improve to 13-19 overall and 6-9 in the Crossroads League.
The Trojans (19-15, 9-8) came out firing in the first set, jumping to an 8-4 lead early. Kathryn Novy put the Pilots back in it with consecutive kills and Erin Carlos helped the Pilots knot it at 9 apiece. After Haley Brown gave the Pilots a 12-11 lead, the Trojans fought back to jump to a 19-15 lead and extend it to 23-15 late in the set. The Pilots fought back as Kassandra Williams, Brown, and Abby Armold killed off three set points to pull within 24-23 but the Trojans finished the first set off 25-23 to take an early lead in the match.
Neither team could grab the momentum early in the second set until Kristen Mitchell’s back-to-back kills gave the Pilots an 11-7 lead and force a Trojan timeout. The Pilots held onto the lead and Brown’s consecutive attacks gave the Pilots the largest lead of the match to that point at 16-10. The Trojans roared back with four straight points to force the Pilots to use a timeout. The Trojans closed the gap to 18-17 out of the break, but Armold and Cassie Sears helped the Pilots to a 21-17 advantage. The Trojans again came back with five straight points to take a 22-21 lead but Armold helped extend the set. With the Trojans holding a 24-22 lead, the Pilots rattled off four straight points to take an impressive 26-24 victory and knot the match at 1-1.
As was the start in the second set, neither team could get much momentum early. A Cassie Sears kill gave the Pilots a 10-7 advantage. The Trojans immediately closed it to 10-9 but the momentum began to swing in the Pilots’ favor. Kristen Mitchell started a run that gave the Pilots 8 of the next 12 points to take a 18-13 lead to force a Taylor timeout. Sears continued her fine play out of the timeout with multiple kills to extend the lead to 21-15. The Pilots finished off the set in dominant fashion, with a 25-16 win and a 2-1 advantage in the match.
The Pilots jumped out to a 9-4 lead early in the fourth set, looking to close out the match, but the Trojans battled back to knot it at 9 to force a Pilot timeout. The Trojans regained their form and took an 18-15 lead and extended their advantage to 21-16 late. Kassandra Williams and Payton Anderson tried to get the Pilots back into it at 22-18 but the Trojans pulled away for a 25-20 victory and force a match-deciding fifth set.
The fifth set featured 11 lead changes and 14 ties as the largest lead of the set was 6-4 Taylor. The Pilots staved off elimination to force an attack error on the Trojans and knot it at 14. Out of a Trojan timeout, the visitors took a 15-14 advantage but Kassandra Williams provided the muscle to close out the match for the Pilots, with three straight kills on set-ups by Payton Anderson to win 17-15 and snap the Pilots’ losing streak to the Trojans.
Haley Brown and Kassandra Williams led the match with 14 kills each. Payton Anderson tied her career-high with 49 assists while Bridget Downs led with a match-high 28 digs. Erin Carlos added to her team-leading service ace total with two more on the evening to go along with 27 digs.
“Tonight was a great win!” exclaimed Head Coach Katie Weiss. “I’m so proud of our team and how hard they have worked to get to where they are.”
The Pilots hit the road for two matches at Grace and St. Francis on Friday and Saturday, respectively, before returning to Gates Gymnasium for Senior Night against Huntington on Wednesday. With three matches remaining in the regular season, the Pilots are in a tie for 6th with Huntington and are one game behind St. Francis.