Jordan Beech, Assistant Director of Athletics Communications
SHAWNEE – Oklahoma Baptist volleyball started off Great American Conference play on the right foot, claiming a 3-1 (25-23, 12-25, 25-19, 25-18) victory on Tuesday night at Mabee Arena inside the Noble Complex.
Mikayla Watson enjoyed a big night, laying down 16 kills while hitting at a .317 clip. She also picked up a double-double on the evening by picking up 14 digs, and also added one block assist for good measure on the defensive side.
“I think Mikayla played so well in sets three and four,” said OBU head coach Anna Howle. “After struggling a little through the second set she created different ways to score instead of just trying the same things.”
The Lady Bison used a 5-0 run in the first set to create separation from the Rangers after looking at a 13-16 deficit. A Northwestern attacking error sparked the run, and Brecken Roqumore, Jenna Gremmel and Watson scored to build the lead while Hayden Blair held serve. Nicole Fleitman picked up set point off a feed from Gremmel to kill a late rally by the Rangers.
Following a rough second set where OBU hit just .118, the Lady Bison responded with a potent offense that combined for 25 kills in the final two frames.
Watson held serve deep in the third set while OBU went on a 4-0 stretch, sparked by a Malia Leatherland kill that broke a late 18-18 tie and injected the sideline and crowd of 178 with the energy necessary to spur OBU to a 2-1 advantage.
With renewed energy, Oklahoma Baptist jumped on Northwestern quickly in the fourth with strong play at the net that featured blocks from Fleitman and Roquemore. Watson picked up three of OBU’s final four points to clinch the match.
“I liked that they played hard,” said Howle. “I really loved the fourth set. They really hit their stride and figured out that they needed to make adjustments to what Northwestern was doing, and we finished really strong.”
Watson had a match-best 16 kills, and Leatherland also reached double figures with 11 while swinging .237. Gremmel finished the night with 44 assists.
Defensively, OBU had a season-high eight total blocks, including a career-best five total blocks from Roquemore. Delayna Mills had a team-high 16 digs despite only seeing action in the first two sets, and Kelsi Chavez and Watson tied for second on the team at 14 apiece. Gremmel notched a double-double thanks to an 11-dig performance to go along with her assist total.
Oklahoma Baptist (4-6, 1-0 GAC) return to action on Friday, Sept. 7 when they host the GAC/MIAA Crossover. Up first for the Lady Bison are Missouri Southern State at 12 p.m., followed by Emporia State at 6 p.m.