COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University volleyball team lost a tough bout with the Pioneers of Marietta College, three games to one. Courtney McCracken put together another double-double effort, but Marietta stood strong and took the lead for the final OAC Tournament spot.
Capital (5-19, 1-5 OAC) hit consistently throughout the course of the match, never dropping below .170 and hitting as high as .190 in a single set, as a team. However, Marietta (17-11, 2-4) hit a touch better, especially in the first two sets, to gain an early edge.
Marietta was led by a trio of players that tallied 10 or more kills over the course of the night. Mallory Vodopich tallied six of her match-high 15 kills in the first set, in which Marietta hit .235 to Caiptal's .174. Capital only had two errors in the opening set, but stout defense by the Pioneers prevented Cap from gaining the advantage. Cap brought it to within one point, 23-22, but Hunter Barnes and Vodopich ended the threat with back-to-back kills to end the set, 25-22.
The second set was very similar to how the first played out in that Cap was right with Marietta for a majority of the match before one final push from the guests put them over the top. This time, it was Darcy Irish that paired with Vodopich that went back-to-back in the set-ending endeavor. Senior Courtney McCracken (Newark, Ohio/Newark Catholic) began to awaken with four kills on seven attempts (.429) and two service aces in the second set.
In the third set, Capital was the team to run away with the lead late and earn a set victory, bridging closer, 2-1. After losing a two-point lead, Capital called timeout with the score tied which set up Akaila Howard's go-ahead kill. The freshman, Howard, then teamed up with Hannah Ewart at the net to stop Vodopich's oncoming attack with a block to end the set in Capital's favor, 25-23. It was that set that Cap hit at its best, topping off at a .190 attack success rate.
Both team battled in the deciding fourth set, but Marietta was too much to be stopped on their final charge to victory. Tied 21 all, a Capital service error gave Marietta the lead and began a three-point rally that broke the match open. Irish came back for the finishing kill to end the fourth set 25-22.
McCracken finished with a team-high 11 kills while adding 11 digs for her 12th double-double of the year. She also added four block assists and three service aces to her line. She was one of three players to finish in double-figure dig totals. Senior Kirsten Bender (12) was one of those players.
After a lengthy absence due to injury, sophomore Jess Winstel (Milford, Ohio/Milford) performed well with a team-high 20 digs as the team's libero.
Capital dominated the net, tallying 12 total blocks on 24 block assists over the course of the match. Bender and Ewart led the Crusaders with six each, while seven different players got in on the block party. Marietta tallied just four block assists and one solo block to combined for three.
Vodopich led all players with 15 total kills and hit .231 on the evening. Amanda Arrowood (12) and Irish (13) joined her with double-digit kill counts. Irish hit a team-best .267 from the outside. Cassie Staten lofted 52 assist, compared to Capital's Kirsten Jutte who tallied 32.
Capital will finish off its home schedule this Saturday when they host John Carroll University at 1 p.m. inside The Capital Center. It is Senior Day and before the match kicks off the team will celebrate the careers of five young ladies who are in their final year at Capital: Courtney McCracken, Hannah Ewart, Kirsten Nickles, Kristen Bender, and Samantha Rogers.