By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Day one of the 2017 season displayed some bright spots on Opening Day with the play of Capital University Volleyball's senior class and multiple freshmen. Kasey Parkhurst crushed her previous career high in kills, while Bryanna Masters' earned a share of the spotlight with a solid line as part of Capital's split on day one of the Otterbein Fall Volleyball Classic. Capital defeated St. Mary's University (Ind.), 3-1, before falling to rival Otterbein in the nightcap.
MATCH 1 – Capital defeats St. Mary's College, 3-1 (12-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-17)
Capital got off to a slow start in its opening match, but turned it up to win each of the next three for the team's first win of the season and Head Coach Amanda Hubbard's first win as a Crusader.
After falling in the opening frame, 25-12, Capital roared back and steadily improved its hitting percentage over the course of the match. Senior Kasey Parkhurst (Castalia, Ohio/Margaretta) had a strong day at the service line, especially in the second set when she spurred a pair of small runs that helped Capital create some space against the Belles. The second such run took a 19-18 lead to a comfortable 23-18 margin. St. Mary's battled back, but Leighann Osborne (Canal Winchester, Ohio/Canal Winchester) put down the finishing strike to tie the match, 1-1, and give Capital the second set by a score of 25-21.
The Purple and White nearly succumbed to another slow start when St. Mary's started on a 6-1 run to begin the third set. The Crusaders chipped away at the deficit, swinging an 18-13 score into a 19-18 lead with senior Graysan Braun (Springfield, Ohio/Northwestern) at the line. Her two service aces plus kills by Parkhurst, Bryanna Masters (Ashland, Ohio/Ashland) and Kirsten Jutte (Fort Recovery, Ohio/Fort Recovery) helped turn the tide of the set and the match. Jutte then went on to lead Capital on a four-point run to create enough space to cruise into a second-set victory, 25-21.
Capital made a huge leap forward in the hitting department, going from a 17.6 success rate in set three to hitting 32.3 percent in the fourth and clinching set. Parkhurt and Masters led the charge with five and four kills, respectively. Braun saved her best for last with five kills on eight attempts (.625) in the fourth frame. After gathering the ball back following a Jessica Gavlak kill, Masters served Cap to a 21-15 lead, and the rest of the match fell into place for the Crusaders. Parkhurst tallied her team-leading 18th kill of the match to seal the deal, 25-17.
Parkhurst's 18 kills set a new career high. Previously, she had never recorded more than five in a match. She hit .171 for the match and also recorded 13 digs to fuel her first career double-double.
Masters put her career in motion with a strong 16-kill evening, hitting .216 in her first collegiate match.
Graysan Braun also had a double-digit kill day (12) to pair with her three service aces. She hit at a 50 percent success rate to lead the team in that category.
The freshman combo of Laura Williamson (Glen Allen, Va./Patrick Henry) and Morgan Tripp (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter Community) combined for 48 assists, with Tripp leading the way by tallying 28 in her collegiate debut. Tripp also put up an unconventional double-double by adding 12 digs.
MATCH 2 – Otterbein defeats Capital, 3-0 (10-25, 19-25, 15-25)
The first round of this year's rivalry went the way of host Otterbein in straight sets. Capital's fortune turned in a different direction against the Cardinals, who hit north of 25 percent in all three sets.
Otterbein's Hadley Sterett hit .440 with 14 kills on 25 attempts while also putting down four service aces and eight digs. The Crusaders were unable to combat the Cardinals' strong net play, in which they were outblocked, 8-3.
Parkhurst and Masters each collected four kills, but combined for 12 errors. Capital committed 21 miscues on the attack, leading to a negative hit percentage.
Capital (1-1) will come back to The Rike Center on Saturday for two more games to finish off the Otterbein Fall Volleyball Classic. The Purple and White will open play with Washington & Jefferson College (Pa.) at 12 noon and follow with North Park University (Ill.) at 2 p.m.