Cedric Collinge, Athletic Communications
GOODWELL – Northwestern Oklahoma State University volleyball came out with two wins in their debut at the Oklahoma Panhandle State University Tournament.
The Lady Rangers got off to a hot start, posting a 25-14, 25-22, 25-19 sweep of the University of the Southwest Mustangs in the first match of the day.
Starting out to a quick 3-0 start their first set of the season, but the Mustangs fought back quickly and tied the game at 5-5 before a quick timeout. The Lady Rangers came out and went on a 6-2 run with a trio of Brooklyn Hesson kills leading 11-7.
A big rally by the black-and-red gave them a commanding 20-12 lead. The NWOSU held the Mustangs to 14 points through the first, ending in high fashion with senior Tobirae Barker ace, 25-14.
After a dominating first set, the Lady Rangers started the second set like the first set leading 6-3 before a Mustang timeout. Coming out of the timeout the black-and-red came out striking, but the Mustangs would not go down as easy this time around causing Coach Jeremy White to call a timeout with the score being 11-9.
The Mustangs gained their first lead of the match after a long rally 16-15, yet the Lady Rangers kept their composure and quickly regained the lead and did not look back. After a long hard fought set the Rangers came out on top 25-22, going into the third set the Lady Rangers the series 2-0.
Junior Jennifer Eubanks posted a team-high eight kills and Freshmen Kaydee Honeycutt made her presence known posting five kills.
The Lady Rangers played with determination to close out their first match of the season and started with another 6-3 lead before the Mustangs slowed them down tying up the game 6-6. Southwest set a pace of their own, scoring four straight points before a timeout by Coach White.
Barker gave the Lady Rangers a momentum boost with back-to-back aces to give them a 13-11 lead. Redshirt junior Kiauna Clarkposted high flying kills that added to Barkers aces to help the black-and-red gain a confirming 20-17. The Lady Rangers completed the sweep of the Mustangs, winning the third set 25-19.
Versus University of St. Thomas
The Lady Rangers brought their high-powered offense to their second game of the day against University of St. Thomas Celts who are also a strong team. The black-red posted yet another sweep and another victory in the win column as well, winning 25-23, 25-18, 25-17 giving them a 2-0 record to start their 2018 season.
The Lady Rangers played one of their toughest sets of the day where a lead was not sustained by either team until the 20th point scored by the black-and-red.
Tied at 13-13 no team was able to pull away or gain the momentum until the outside hitters of St. Thomas stepped up to give the Celts a 19-17 lead.
A kill by Freshmen Stephanie Bray ignited a fire for the Lady Rangers as they regained the lead 21-19, scoring four straight points. The black-and-red sustained that momentum and finished a tough set 25-23.
Lady Rangers showed their strength going up 8-3 before a Celts timeout for them to regroup, but it did not help the Celts. The black-and-red came out of the timeout with same energy they ended with. Going on a 6-1 run giving them a 14-4 lead in the set.
The St. Thomas team was not going to give up and rallied back from being down by 10 to tie the game at 15-15, but as usual the Lady Rangers kept their composure and did what they had to do to win the set.
Eubanks posted a set-high eight kills and 15 assists from sophomore Kaitlyn Robinson was more than enough to give the ladies another set win.
After beginning the set 8-0 with three rapid fire kills from Brooklyn Hesson, the Lady Rangers had no plans of losing the third set. After a timeout from St. Thomas the rally continued as Robinson followed up with a pair of aces to separate the Lady Rangers from the Celts, 15-7.
After several errors in favor of the Celts, the game began to get intense between both sides, and it fueled the Celts as they rallied back to get within 7 points of the Lady Rangers 17-23. The black-and-red took advantage of a service error to score their 24th point and finished the match with a sweep, 25-17.
The Lady Rangers won six straight sets on the first day at the OPSU Tournament, and look to carry the winning mentality over to Saturday. They will face University of Science and Arts (Okla.) at 11 p.m. and Oklahoma Panhandle State at 5 p.m. at Anchor D Arena in Goodwell.