COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University volleyball team earned its first win of the season and pushed their record to 1-2 on the season after a split on day one of the Capital-Otterbein Tournament. Capital defeated Earlham College in their opening match on Friday, 3-1, before falling to Case Western Reserve University by the same score in the night cap.
EARLHAM 1, CAPITAL 3 (12-25, 25-18, 27-25, 25-15)
After stumbling out of the gate against the Quakers in the first set, Capital rebounded well and saw its hitting percentages steadily increase over the course of the match. Earlham stormed to a 25-12 opening-set win behind a solid .455 hit percentage, but that dropped hastily in the next set.
Senior Kristen Bender (Fremont, Ohio) sparked Cap in the second set with a team-leading four kills on nine attacks plus a service ace. Combining a pair of blocks and a total of 13 digs between the freshman duo of Jaelin Rios (Champlin, Minn.) and Kirsten Jutte (Fort Recovery, Ohio), Capital downed Earlham in the second set by a seven-point margin.
The momentum truly swung the way of the Purple and White when they outlasted their opposition in an extended third set, 27-25. Cap overcame a five-point deficit late in the set with help from its .196 hit percentage as a team and having committed just five errors along the way. Tied 25-25, senior Kirsten Nickles (Loudonville, ohio) sealed the deal with back-to-back kills to end the set and give Capital a 2-1 edge.
Capital then used an 11-2 run with senior Courtney McCracken (Newark, Ohio/Newark Catholic) at the service line to run away with the fourth and final set. Nickles put down five kills while committing zero errors in the fourth, three of which came during that run. As a team, the Crusaders hit .333 in the set.
Nickles and McCracken shared the team lead with nine kills each. Nickles was among the team's best hitters, finished with a .240 success rate on 25 attempts. Junior Becca Kapavik (Johnstown, Ohio) was also among the top Capital hitters, finishing with six kills on 16 attempts (.312). Rios led Cap with 14 digs. Jutte had a solid match, ending with 25 assists, four block assists and three service aces.
CASE WESTERN RESERVE 3, CAPITAL 1 (25-15, 25-13, 23-25, 25-15)
Capital was unable to replicate its offense from its match against Earlham after being stymied by strong net play by the Spartans of Case Western Reserve University. The Spartans tallied a total of 14.5 blocks, including 27 block assists.
A total of 40 Capital errors in addition to CWRU's strong play up front prevented the hosts from returning to form. Three Crusaders finished with double-digit dig totals, but none breached that mark on the offensive front. McCracken led Cap with eight kills and had 10 digs.
Case's Brianna Lemon led all players with 12 kills and posted four block assists. Her teammate Kayla Pfaff led the way at the net with one solo block and eight block assists.
Combined, McCracken finished the night with 17 kills and averaged 2.43 kills per set. Jutte had 46 assists and libero Jaelin Rios had 33 digs to lead the squad.
Capital (1-2) will open up day two of tournament action on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. with a match against Denison University. They will wrap up the day against Ohio Christian University at 2:30 p.m.