COLUMBUS, Ohio – Friday night's Ohio Athletic Conference volleyball match between the fiercest rivals in the conference set the tone for a weekend of intense action. Capital University Women's Volleyball hosted Otterbein University at The Capital Center, and went the distance before narrowly falling to the Cardinals in five sets (.
Both teams made a habit of battling back from mid-sized deficits throughout the course of the match, beginning in the opening frame. Down four points, Capital adjusted its offensive scheme after trying to attack the middle of the Otterbein defense. After moving its attack to the outsides, Capital closed the gap to just one point before the guests broke away for a second time. Freshman Natalie Samenuk (Westlake, Ohio) led a rally that included three service aces to close the gap to one, again. Despite tying the game at 22, Otterbein's Brett Bey registered back-to-back kills to give the Cardinals a 25-23 set win, and 1-0 match lead.
Capital tied the match up by taking the second set, but Otterbein did not make it easy. This time, Capital took the early edge with an 8-2 start but the margin slowly narrowed until Otterbein eventually tied the hosts. Senior Courtney McCracken (Newark, Ohio/Newark Catholic) and junior Graysan Braun (Springfield, Ohio/Northwestern) recorded Capital's final four kills, and each of the last three points to level the match. In that set, Capital hit at its best rate (.419) and committed just two errors on 31 attacks.
Otterbein won the third set, 25-23, distancing itself by as many as five points before Capital regained the lead thanks to three different errors that closed the gap. Up 21-20, Cap lost that advantage a pair of errors and two kills by Morgan Lowenkamp.
Senior Hannah Ewart (Wichita, Kan.) helped change the momentum of the fourth set. Down 10-4, Ewart was a key part of an eight-point turnaround with strong defense and front-line play. She threw down two kills and paired up with junior Becca Kapavik (Johnstown, Ohio/Newark Catholic) for a key block. She later rocketed the set-clinching point to tie the match for a second time and force a fifth set.
Frontline defense stole the show in the fifth set, as each team induced multiple thrilling rallies. Otterbein won the race to eight points, switching sides with a four-point advantage, 8-4. Capital again fought back and regain the lead with a 9-3 run. Cap went on to bring about match point, 14-12, but Otterbein fought off the clinching point three different times before Otterbein's Brenna McNally ended the match with an ace and the serve ending with Marie Thornton's game-winning kill, and a 19-17 score..
McCracken recorded her ninth double-double of the season behind a match-high 14 kills while adding 12 digs. She hit .237 on the night, committing just five errors on 38 total attacks.
Her counterpart, Kapavik, posted her second match with double-digit kills and led the team with a new season-best six block assists. That also tied her career high in that category which she hit twice last season. Kapavik blasted 10 kills and did not commit an error, leading to a .556 kill percentage.
Other notable performances include freshman Kirsten Jutte's 30 assist day, which also included nine digs and three total blocks. Freshman libero Jaelin Rios (Champlin, Minn.) led Capital with 20 digs.
On the other side of the court, Lowenkamp led Otterbein (10-5, 1-1 OAC) with 13 kills and hit .235. Andrea Miller put up 39 assists, six kills and seven digs.
Capital is now 4-14 overall and drops its first OAC contest of the year. They have now had three five-set matches this year, falling in each of them. The Purple and White face a quick turnaround and will play Albion College (Mich.) on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. inside The Capital Center.