Lady Cougars sweep Grace in Crossroads opener

The Mount Vernon Nazarene University volleyball team turned in an impressive 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-19) victory over Grace College (Ind.) Wednesday night in Ariel Arena to kick off the Crossroads League schedule. It was also the home opener for the Lady Cougars and their sixth straight win to start the 2015 campaign.

“It was a great, great match,” MVNU Head Coach Paul Swanson said. “Grace is a rally good team and if you would of told me we would’ve beaten them 3-0 I just don’t know if I would’ve seen that as a realistic chance. We played extremely well in the back row; we played really consistent and made a lot of good choices from an attacking point of view. I couldn’t be more pleased with the player’s effort and their execution was really good. Overall it was a great, great game.”

In set one MVNU (6-0, 1-0 Crossroads League) exploded out of the gate with five of the first six points to grab the early lead. A pair of kills from Annelise Rohrer, a kill by Alyson Near, an ace from Marlowe Beatty, and block assists from Near and Ashley Gingerich keyed the run. However, Grace (5-4, 0-1 Crossroads League) stormed back to pull in front 11-9 on blocks by Kari Feddema and Caylie Teel.

Trailing 15-12, the Lady Cougars turned the tide back in their favor with a 5-0 run on kills by Rohrer, and ace from Carolyn Beatty and some miscues by the Lady Lancers. Grace stayed within a couple of points until MVNU closed the set with a 7-0 run to win 25-17.

The momentum carried over for the Lady Cougars into the second set and it enabled them to take a commanding 13-2 lead. Kristen Osborn recorded four kills to power the MVNU offense during the stretch. The Lady Lancers then stormed back to grab the lead at 19-18 on a kill by Kelsee Zuidema. During that span, Grace engineered eight straight points to get back within striking distance.

Both teams traded points late in the set and after holding a brief 23-22 edge, the Lady Cougars found themselves tied with Grace again 23-23 after a block by Grace Woolsey. MVNU then countered with back to back points to take game two and a 2-0 match lead. Osborn delivered a kill to make it 24-23 and then a Lady Lancer error proved to be the final point in the set.

The Lady Cougars fell behind 11-8 in game three, but rallied late in the set to earn the lead. MVNU went in front 18-16 on two Grace errors and then a kill by Osborn increased the gap to 19-16. Two consecutive points by the Lady Lancers made it a 19-18 contest, but the Lady Cougars would claim six of the next seven points to win the match. The final three points of the night were produced on kills by Bryte, and Carolyn Beatty while an ace from Osborn sealed the win.

Rohrer powered the MVNU offense with 17 kills (.371) followed by Osborn who landed 12 kills (.258) on the night. Near picked up six kills and was active defensively at the front of the net with two solo blocks and three block assists. Emily Rahe was credited with 15 assists and Bridget Troyer chipped in with 11 assists. Defensively, Marlowe Beatty collected 21 digs, Rohrer had 18 digs, and Osborn stopped multiple attacks with 11 digs.

Tori Bontrager closed the night with seven kills followed by Marta Bleed and Grace Woolsey with six kills each for the Lady Lancers. Laken Chaney dished out 28 assists and defensively Sara Miller had 18 digs. Grace was tough up front on defense with 12 block assists and two solo blocks as a team.

The Lady Cougars will be back on the court Saturday at the Wilmington College Tri-Match.