WOOSTER, Ohio – The Capital University volleyball team saw its play improve greatly in the second day of their weekend tournament at The College of Wooster, resulting in a split in Saturday's action. Courtney McCracken posted a pair of double-doubles while Kirsten Jutte came closing to matching her career-high in single-game assists.
CAPITAL 2, BLUFFTON 3 (25-23, 25-15, 18-25, 22-25, 15-9)
The Purple and White battled after being down two sets to none, and forced a decisive fifth set to determine a victor in their opening match with Bluffton University. Tied 5-5 in the fifth, the Beavers scored the next two points via a kill and a Capital block error. The two teams traded blows, but Bluffton maintained and extended its edge over Capital to six points. Bluffton hung on for the win, 15-9 with the final point coming off of an attack by MacKenzie McFarlin.
After dropping the first two sets, Capital stormed back and used a big lead built early to propel it to a 25-18 victory. At one point, Capital was up by 10 points before the Beavers made its own comeback, but fell short.
Senior Courtney McCracken (Newark, Ohio/Newark Catholic) led the charge in the fourth set with four of her 15 kills coming in a span that helped Capital break away. Freshman Akaila Howard (Huber Heights, Ohio) added three kills down the stretch to help keep the advantage before junior Graysan Braun (Springfield, Ohio) finished the set with a kill off of Kirsten Jutte's set.
Jutte, a native of Fort Recovery, Ohio, was one assist shy of tying her previous single match best. She served up 41 assists, and added to a solid game with seven digs and two block assists.
Senior Kirsten Nickles (Loudonville, Ohio) quietly matched McCracken's offensive output with each laying down 15 kills on the day. McCracken also made 12 digs, two service aces and two block assists.
Capital hit .187, as a team, which is a big improvement by comparison to its output on Friday night. They continued that trend in their second match of the day against a familiar foe, Franciscan University.
CAPITAL 3, FRANCISCAN 1 (26-24, 25-17, 21-25, 25-16)
The duo of McCracken and Nickles struck again and helped Capital hit .170 against the Barons, helping them to a 3-1 win. It was their second win over Franciscan this year, and fourth overall.
Capital was down three points late in the first set and came back to tie the game, 23-23. Knotted at 24, Jutte took to the service line. Capital benefitted from an attack error to take the lead and Jutte finished the deal with a service ace to outlast the Barons and take a 1-0 match lead.
A pair of small runs in the middle of the second set helped push Cap's lead to 2-0, but the Barons retaliated by winning the third set to extend their life in the match. Capital made quick work of Franciscan after opening the fourth on an 11-2 run. The Barons responded with a six-point run to come within four, but never got any closer.
McCracken posted a pair of double-doubles on the final day of the Ginny Hunt Kilt Classic, bringing her season total to seven. She finished the weekend with 37 kills, a .173 attack percentage, 34 digs, and six aces. McCracken was also named Capital's representative on the All-Tournament Team. She finished with a team-high 37 kills, hit .173, posted six aces, and 34 digs over the weekend.
Nickles also rebounded nicely after being held to just four kills on day one of the tournament. On Saturday, she turned in 25 kills.
Jutte concluded the tournament with 112 assists to accompany her 12 kills, 24 digs, four block assists, and six aces.
Jaelin Rios (Champlin, Minn.) also had a solid weekend after the freshman concluded her weekend with 58 digs, 10 assists and three aces.
The win snaps a six-match losing streak and will lead into next weekend's tournament hosted at Hanover College. Capital will take its 4-9 overall record into the HCAC/OAC Crossover. They will meet host Hanover at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23 to open up action. They will also play Mount St. Joseph University later that evening.