By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, Ohio---The No. 2 Owens Community College women's volleyball team swept a pair of matches against Sinclair Community College this afternoon to claim the 2016 Region XII District F championship.
In doing so, Owens not only improved its winning streak to 14, but they earned a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II National Tournament in Charleston, W.V. Nov. 17-19.
Digging deeper, Owens improved to 38-4 overall and has now won 30 consecutive sets dating back to Nov. 15. Not only did they push their winning streak to 14, but they have also won 34 of their past 36 matches. Furthermore, over the past two years, Owens is 34-0 against conference opponents in the regular season and postseason combined.
This year's district championship is the second straight for Owens, who have claimed 10 district championships in program history, including four in the past seven seasons.
Match 1: Owens d. Sinclair 25-10, 27-25, 25-17 (Winner's Bracket Final)
In today's opener, Owens fought off two set points in the second frame and picked up its third straight set win over Sinclair this year.
The Owens defense held Sinclair's top offensive threat Meg Reineke to just 10 kills on 12 errors. She didn't pick up a kill until the second set, and then she recorded five apiece in the final two sets.
Early in the first set, Devon Heitkamp (New Bremen/New Bremen, Ohio) and Tyanna Smith (Bowling Green/Bowling Green, Ohio) picked up two kills apiece, but Owens led just 5-4. From there, Owens scored six of the next seven points, highlighted by three kills from Ashley Pleiman (Fort Loramie/Fort Loramie, Ohio).
Owens then continued to rally. Annie Lindeman (Ottoville/Ottoville, Ohio) and Christine Tylutki (Monroe/Monroe, Mich.) had back-to-back kills, followed by a Niki Polce (Huron/New Boston, Mich.) ace as Owens led 16-7.
Following a service error, Owens rattled off four more consecutive points, highlighted by a pair of assisted blocks from the combination of Erika Angstmann (St. Mary's Memorial/St. Mary's, Ohio), Smith and Heitkamp, who had a hand in both of them.
Down the stretch, Angstmann had a kill and teamed with Smith for a block of Reineke, who then sent an attack out of bounds before Pleiman capped the set with her fourth kill.
In the second set, Owens fell behind 5-3, 6-4 and 7-6 despite two kills apiece from Pleiman and Tylutki. Olivia Hermiller's (Ottawa-Glandorf/Ottawa, Ohio) first kill tied things up at eight apiece as Owens maintained a close lead until Sinclair took a 16-15 lead.
Hermiller tied it once again with a kill, but Sinclair eventually took a 20-17 lead following a pair of aces, which forced head coach Sonny Lewis to fly out of his chair and call a timeout.
Following the timeout, the words of Lewis had an impact as Hermiller picked up another kill from the right side as Owens reeled off six straight points to take a 23-20 lead. However, Sinclair answered with four straight points, including a kill from Reineke.
Tylutki fended off the first set point with a kill off a pass from Carrigan Gray (Liberty-Benton/Findlay, Ohio). Following another kill from Reineke, Smith recorded back-to-back kills to give Owens set point. Reineke then sent an attack long to give Owens a two-set lead.
Angstmann then opened and closed the third set with kills. Early on, Owens trailed 7-4 before five straight points, highlighted by a pair of blocks from the Heitkamp-Tylutki combination and a back row kill from Angstmann, gave Owens a 9-7 lead.
Sinclair then smashed home an overpass for a kill, but Owens scored four straight points, led by kills from Lindeman, Tylutki and Heitkamp, along with a trio block from Tylutki, Heitkamp and Angstmann.
A little later, Smith had kills on four straight points to give Owens an 18-12 lead. A Pleiman kill pushed the lead to 22-15, and then Angstmann closed the match with back-to-back kills from the left side.
Smith led Owens with 10 kills, which came with a .533 hitting percentage in the match. It was her third straight match with at least 10 kills. Tylutki and Pleiman each added nine kills, while Tylutki hit a team-high .727, although Pleiman came in at .429. As a team, Owens hit .338.
Tylutki (23) and Gray (18) had 41 of the team's 44 assists, and Brooke Gyori (Clay/Oregon, Ohio) had the other three - along with a team-high 20 digs. Heitkamp had a team-high seven blocks, and Angstmann added five.
Match 2: Owens d. Sinclair 25-23, 25-22, 25-13 (Championship)
Despite struggling offensively through the first two sets, Owens made the clutch plays when it mattered to pick up their fourth straight set win over Sinclair this year.
In the first set, Owens turned a one-point deficit into a 17-9 lead with a 10-1 run that featured five aces, including two from Lindeman, an ace from Polce and a Heitkamp-Tylutki block.
A pair of kills from Pleiman then gave Owens a 21-15 lead, but Sinclair scored five straight points before a kill from Lindeman made it 22-20. A net violation, an attack out of bounds and a bad pass then allowed Sinclair to take a one point advantage.
Lindeman, however, came through again with two straight kills, and those were followed by an attack out of bounds from Sinclair that gave Owens a tough first set victory.
Owens led nearly all of the second set, but Sinclair led twice early in the set and made things difficult for Owens. The second of those two leads came at 6-5 following back-to-back kills from Reineke.
Three straight unforced errors from Sinclair then gave Owens a two point lead. A couple points later, a Smith kill and a Lindeman solo block, followed by a Reineke attack out of bounds, gave Owens an 11-7 lead.
Lindeman picked up another kill, and Heitkamp smacked home an overpass for a 14-8 lead. From there, though, Sinclair mounted a 7-0 rally to take its final lead of the set.
Down 15-14, Owens got kills from Heitkamp and Angstmann to spur a 3-0 rally. The score was knotted at 17 apiece when a Sinclair attack sailed long. Angstmann followed with a kill and a Heitkamp-Smith block gave Owens a 20-17 lead.
Sinclair pulled within one twice late in the set, but Owens got a kill from Smith, followed by a right side kill from Pleiman to claim the championship.
Once again, Smith led the team in kills with 12, while Lindeman added 10. Angstmann chipped in eight, and Pleiman had seven. After hitting just .115 as a team through the first two sets, Owens hit .500 in the third set and finished at .217 as a team.
Tylutki and Gray each had 20 assists for Owens, while three others recorded one apiece. Polce had the team's lone ace, while Gyori (18) and Angstmann (13) led in digs.
Smith had a team-high seven kills. Heitkamp also chipped in four, and Pleiman had three.
Tylutki was named the Region XII District F tournament MVP. She recorded 16 kills, 62 assists, 14 digs and six blocks over the tournament's three matches. She hit .400 in last night's match and .727 in today's first match.
Also earning a spot on the all-tournament team for Owens were Gyori and Smith. Gyori recorded 58 digs, two aces, five assists and one kill, while Smith had 34 kills and 18 blocks. In addition, Smith hit over .500 in each of the three matches. In fact, she has hit over .500 in six of her past eight matches.
Other members of the all-tournament team were Reineke (Sinclair), Sarah Bettinger (Sinclair), Brianna Wells (Edison) and Payton Ciolek (Cuyahoga).