Kansas Wesleyan Women's Volleyball battled back from a 2 set to 1 match deficit winning the fourth set and had to overcome a deficit in the deciding fifth to knock off the No. 18 ranked Ottawa Braves on Saturday in five sets, and sweeping Hannibal-LaGrange in the KWU Triangular at Mabee Arena.Wesleyan beat the Braves 25-13, 22-25, 23-25, 25-20, 18-16, then swept Hannibal-LaGrange 25-13, 25-13, 25-14.
"We battled, especially in that fifth set. It was back and forth, the score was tied 11 times just in the fifth set," Kansas Wesleyan coach Jessica Biegert said. "We really wanted it at the end. Ottawa's a tough team to beat. They're used to winning. Our team really wanted it tonight and it was good to see us come through and beat Ottawa."
Wesleyan, already down 2-to-1 in the fourth, flipped the proverbial switch trailing 16-12 in the set. Megan Peeler got a kill to start a 6-0 Coyote run in the set that gave KWU an 18-16 lead. Ottawa drew even at 19-all, but the Coyotes got back-to-back kills from Kyla Moore and Kylee Harris to take a 21-19 lead in the set.
Leading 21-20, the Coyotes rattled off the final four points to take the set.
Wesleyan trailed 11-9 in the fifth when KWU tied it up at 11-all, but trailed again at 13-12. After a KWU timeout, Peeler put down another kill followed by a Harris kill giving the Coyotes their first match point try. After a Ottawa timeout, the Braves got a kill, but then gave the next point to the Coyotes on a service error setting up another match point. Ottawa tied it at 15, and again at 16 before finally getting back-to-back kills by Rylee Serpan to end it.
Biegert noted the play of Serpan, the defending NAIA Attacker of the Week, and Harris in turning the momentum in Wesleyan's favor, along with the strong play of the Coyote defense, not only from libero Kelcey Hund, but Ella Schmid and Kori Arnold as well.
"Rylee and Kylee are really our go-to's offensively," she said. "When we need to score and get momentum back, they're our big power hitters that know how to put a ball away to get things going in our direction and make a run.
We run a different defense than a lot of teams that lets Kelcey have a lot more freedom, but our other defenders stepped up today which was huge. Kori Arnold and Ella Schmid both stepped up on defense and helped out immensely."
Wesleyan came out of the gates hitting on all cylinders taking an 11-5 lead in the opening set, but a decisive 7-0 run that turned a 12-9 lead into a 19-9 lead was the difference in the set for the Coyotes.
After Ottawa scored three straight, the Coyotes scored five in a row to take a 24-12 lead before winning the set 25-13.
Ottawa built an early lead in the second set, leading 13-9 and were able to push out to a 16-11 lead. Wesleyan got back within two at 16-14, but got no closer than two points the rest of the set, winning 25-22.
The third set was back and forth until Ottawa used a 5-0 run to take an 11-7 lead. The Braves pushed it out to 14-9 and led 17-12 when the Coyotes made a run, getting within two at 17-15. Wesleyan drew even with the Braves at 21-all on Serpan's kill, and had a 23-21 lead after Josie Deckinger's service ace, but Ottawa scored the final four points of the set to win 25-23.
Serpan led the Coyotes with 18 kills, while Harris had 16, and Peeler and Deckinger had six each. Deckinger had 40 assists and 16 digs and three blocks. Wesleyan's front line defense combined for 12 team blocks in the match, as Sarah Girard and Moore had five each. Hund had 26 digs and Schmid added 13.
The Coyotes didn't show any signs of big game hangover in the match against Hannibal-LaGrange, easily dispatching the Trojans 25-13, 25-13, 25-14.
It was all Coyotes from start to finish.
Wesleyan led 6-3 in the opening set before embarking on a 9-0 run that made it 15-3 and Hannibal had no answer as the Coyotes cruised to the first set win.
We came out and set the tone in the first set and then we were able to experiment a little bit with different lineups and got everyone in off the bench and were still able to control the match," Biegert said. "It was really fun to see that no matter who we put on the court we could keep up our level of play."
The Coyotes trailed 4-3 early in the second set, but five straight points got things going in Wesleyan's direction. Leading 16-10, the Coyotes pulled away with a 6-0 run to make it 22-10. Peeler's kill ended the second set 25-13.
Wesleyan jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the final set behind the service games of Marti Strickert and Taylor Suko.
Leading 13-9, the Coyotes pulled away with a 5-1 run that made it 18-10 Coyotes. Back-to-back service aces by Harris gave Wesleyan match point, but Hannibal scored two points before Strickert's kill closed it out.
Harris led a balanced Wesleyan attack with six kills, in two sets of action. Eden Schilder, Peeler, Moore and Gianna Adriaanse had five kills each. Deckinger had 21 assists in two sets of action. Serpan added four aces in two sets, and Harris had three. Hund finished with 17 digs and was one of only two regular starters to play the entire match as all 15 suited players played at least one set.
Things don't get much easier for the Coyotes this week with two road matches at Tabor in Hillsboro on Wednesday and at Saint Mary on Saturday in Leavenworth.
"Tabor has a lot of new this year, so there's a lot of unknowns there. Saint Mary on Saturday, up there It's always a hard place to play and they're always a really good team at home that we will have to battle with."