From OBU Sports
Jordan Beech, Assistant Director of Athletics Communications
SHAWNEE – A disastrous third set looked prime to hand Oklahoma Baptist Volleyball their first Great American Conference setback of the season, but the Lady Bison managed to battle back from a 2-1 deficit to claim a five-set victory, 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 10-25, 25-16, 15-11), over their rivals from Southern Nazarene on Thursday night.
The first set saw the Lady Bison fall behind early, 12-7. A 5-2 run, sparked by a kill by Kynnedy Myers and helped along by a slew of Crimson Storm errors, closed the gap to 14-12 in favor of SNU. Scores by Adonica Wright and Nicole Fleitman, sandwiching an ace by Madyson Hillis, gave OBU their first lead at 17-16, but they would soon relinquish it after a three-point run by SNU with the match at 23-20. Cadyn Laing helped the Lady Bison briefly fight off set point, but Oklahoma Baptist eventually fell 25-23.
Both teams went on extended runs in the second set, but found themselves knotted up at 16-all at the midway point. A pair of SNU errors gave OBU some breathing room before Shekinah Sharpe laid down a big kill to make it 19-17. The Lady Bison continued to press the advantage, with Hillis earning another service ace to make it 23-18. A Fleitman kill off the dish by Myers gave OBU match point, and Myers stuffed SNU’s Bailee Turang at the net to draw the match level at 1-1.
Coming out of the intermission, OBU had to burn two quick timeouts trailing 7-3 and 11-4. The Lady Bison were unable to chase Turang off her serve, as she held it for eight straight points. Wright finally got the ball back in OBU’s possession, but it was all for naught as the Lady Bison suffered a 25-10 setback heading into a crucial fourth set.
Oklahoma Baptist’s profligacy carried over into the early part of the fourth set, and OBU head coach Anna Howle called timeout trailing 9-5.
“I told them we have to put the pressure back on them,” said Howle about her effort to rally the team during the timeout. “The pressure was on us after the third, into the fourth set, and all we had to do was push back a little bit.”
The Lady Bison surged from that point, pulling within a point following a Sharpe kill to make it 12-11, SNU. Kills by Fleitman and Myers gave Oklahoma Baptist a 17-15 lead, and there was no doubt who would carry the momentum into the fifth set as the Lady Bison played determined at the net, getting a pair of blocks each from Taylor Williams and Sharpe. A block assist from Sharpe and Laing clinched the fourth set to send the teams into the fifth.
Despite only facing one other fifth set, the Lady Bison showed composure yet again when it mattered most, claiming a 6-3 lead and forcing an early SNU timeout. Laing and Rachel Richie ensured the momentum continued for OBU out of the break, laying down back-to-back scores to give the Lady Bison an 8-3 lead at the turn. Though a couple of errors by OBU sapped some of the momentum, a pair of scores from Fleitman and one from Myers brought the Lady Bison to set point. The Crimson Storm survived one match point, but a long serve by SNU’s Makenna Hunter sealed the win for the Lady Bison.
“We’ve talked a lot about reading situationally,” said Howle about her team’s blocking, where OBU held a 12-7 advantage. “They’re doing better at the higher level of gameplay, and that makes a huge difference for us.
“I think our team is tired. I was worried going into the match. Southern Nazarene is a very good team, full of juniors and seniors. We’ve been pushing it all year long, so it’ll be nice for the girls to go home for a bit.”
Laing paced OBU with 11 kills while swinging a match-best .409. Three other Lady Bison: Fleitman, Sharpe and Williams each had 10. Myers posted 30 assists and 12 digs for a double-double, and added six kills against two errors. Sierra VeraCruz tied Myers for the team lead with 12 digs as well.
Oklahoma Baptist (9-7, 3-0 GAC) has the weekend off before heading to Ada, Oklahoma, to face East Central on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.