Crusaders Push Pios to the Brink but Fall in Five-Set Thriller

Pictured: Isabel Jimenez (photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)
Pictured: Isabel Jimenez (photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)

By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director

COLUMBUS, Ohio – An intense and loud crowd packed the north side of the stands at Tuesday night's Capital University volleyball match inside The Capital Center Performance Arena, and the Crusaders gave them every reason to scream until the very last point was scored. After fighting tooth and nail for the entire match and staring victory in its face, the Pioneers made one last charge to overcome the Crusaders in a five-set thriller. Marietta College outlasted Capital, 3-2 (25-12, 20-25, 20-25, 25-21, 17-15), to pull out of Columbus with the win.

The momentum has swung between the two teams multiple times throughout the course of the match and the crowd helped Capital heading into the fifth tiebreaking set. Riding the wave generated in the fourth, Marietta jumped out to a 5-2 lead and seemed to have control after Brooke Trimble and Sam Ritenour blocked down a Capital attempt. Capital called a timeout and concocted a plan to chip away at the Marietta lead, and that they did.

Marietta did not help itself by committing three attack errors coming out of the timeout and then sophomore Isabel Jimenez (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) went to the line. Jimenez tossed down her seventh service ace to trim the lead to two and was followed by Kirsten Jutte's kill to draw within one, prompting a Marietta timeout with the score 8-7 in the guests' favor. Capital soon took its second timeout feeling the energy switch sides again, then sophomore Leighann Osborne (Canal Winchester, Ohio/Canal Winchester) and freshman Olivia Hale (Enon, Ohio/Greenon) came out of the break with kills to bring it back to Cap's side. Jessica Gavlak (Sheffield Village, Ohio/Lutheran West), who had been making a living at the service line, continued to have success by serving up her fifth ace to tie the game, 11-11. Both teams jostled for points before Capital took its first lead of the set behind a Marietta attack error.

One point away from clinching the match, Marietta benefitted from a CU service error. Both teams once again had to break a deadlock to find a winner and eventually, the Pioneers made one more play than the Crusaders behind a kill and another CU error to clinch the set, 17-15, and the match.

Capital (0-19, 0-4 OAC) had to come back from dropping the first set, 25-12, and from a negative hit percentage in each of the first two sets. The Crusaders battled back and benefitted from seven attack errors and six reception errors by the Pioneers. Capital breezed through the third behind its best offensive set of the night, hitting .267 as a team. The script was flipped in the fourth when Marietta turned its offensive numbers around and did not commit an attack error on 34 tries and hit .294.

Collectively, Capital tallied 17 service aces led by Jimenez's career-high seven. Gavlak also set a career high with five aces to feed into that total. Not only did she do it at the line, but Jimenez also collected a double-double behind 16 assists and 11 digs in the match. It was her third double-double of the season and fifth of her career.

On the offensive side, Osborne led all Crusaders with 12 kills on 39 tries. She shared the team lead in offensive workload with freshman Delanie Nahikian (Allegan, Mich./Allegan) who posted nine kills on 39 attempts. Junior Carlie Wilson (Richwood, Ohio/North Union) also had a solid night behind eight kills and a team-high four block assists. Senior Koryne VanScoy tallied a team-high 18 digs out of the libero position.

Marietta (9-14, 1-3 OAC) was led by Sam Ritenour's nine kills while Maddie Nader tallied a double-double behind 25 assists and 17 digs, both team highs.

Capital will jump back into action on Friday night with a nonconference matchup against Franciscan University (2-17 overall) in Steubenville, Ohio. The Barons and Crusaders will square off at 7 p.m.