No. 2 Owens Advances To National Semifinals, Will Square Off Against No. 3 Lincoln Land

No. 2 Owens Advances To National Semifinals, Will Square Off Against No. 3 Lincoln Land

By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information


Charleston, W.V.---The No. 2 Owens Community College women's volleyball team earned a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II National Tournament semifinals with straight set wins over Potomac State College and Sauk Valley Community College on Thursday.

Owens is now 40-4 overall. They will take a 16-game winning streak into Friday's semifinal at 6:30 p.m. against No. 3 Lincoln Land Community College, who finished as the national runner-up last year and rallied from down to sets to knock off Kirkwood Community College in another quarterfinal on Thursday. They are now 39-8 this year.

Friday will be the fifth national semifinal appearance in program history for Owens and only the second at the NJCAA Division II level. The other appearance came in 2012 when the team finished fourth after losing in the semifinals. 

Additionally, with Thursday's victories, Owens recorded its second straight and seventh 40 win season overall in program history.

The other semifinal will feature No. 1 Parkland College, who is the defending national champion, and No. 4 seed Catawba Valley Community College. The winners of the two semifinals will meet at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday for the national championship.

NJCAA Round of 16: Owens d. Potomac State College 25-18, 25-9, 25-18

Brooke Gyori (Clay/Oregon, Ohio) had a team-high 19 digs, while a balanced offensive attack helped lead Owens to a straight set victory over Potomac State in today's round of 16 matchup.

In a No. 2 vs No. 15 seed matchup, Owens trailed for just four points, and all of them came over the match's first 17 points. They overcame the final deficit by scoring five straight points to take a 13-9 lead. Niki Polce (Huron/New Boston, Mich.) produced the first of her three aces in the match to cap the run.

Shortly thereafter, Owens pushed the lead to five, and it hovered around that margin until Devon Heitkamp (New Bremen/New Bremen, Ohio) smacked home a kill from the left side to spur a 3-0 run that gave Owens a 23-15 lead and forced Potomac State's second timeout of the set.

Tyanna Smith (Bowling Green/Bowling Green, Ohio) closed the set with a kill down the middle off an assist from Christine Tylutki (Monroe/Monroe, Mich.).

In that first set, Owens hit just .185. That all changed in the ensuing set as the team had 14 kills and just three errors to hit .524. Erika Angstmann (St. Marys Memorial/St. Marys, Ohio) had two of her four kills in the set over the first five points.

Gyori followed with an ace, and then back-to-back kills from Smith and Ashley Pleiman (Fort Loramie/Fort Loramie, Ohio) pushed the lead to six. Moments later, up 9-5, Owens went on a 6-0 run that was highlighted by kills from Tylutki and Heitkamp and an ace from Pleiman.

A 5-0 run pushed the lead to 21-7 before Leah Ballenger (Fremont Ross/Fremont, Ohio) closed the set with a kill from the left side to put Owens up two sets.

Another strong start in the third set produced a kill from Angstmann, a solo block from Smith and an ace from Gyori to give Owens a 4-1 lead. Tylutki's overpass kill pushed the lead to 9-4 before Potomac State rallied to knot the score at 10 apiece.

Following the first timeout of the match for Owens, Heitkamp produced a kill from the left side to spur a 4-0 run, and Owens never trailed by fewer than two the rest of the way. Angstmann picked up a kill down the right side to make it 20-15, and then Annie Lindeman (Ottoville/Ottoville, Ohio) got a kill from the left side for a 21-17 lead.

Owens closed the match with four straight points, which included an ace from Pleiman, a Tylutki kill and a Heitkamp overpass kill.

Angstmann led Owens offensively with a team-high nine kills, while Smith added eight, Heitkamp had seven and Tylutki had six. Carrigan Gray (Liberty-Benton/Findlay, Ohio) and Tylutki led the way in assists with 18 and 17, respectively. Outside of Gyori's 19 digs, Polce finished second with six. Gyori and Polce also shared the team-high in aces with three apiece. Smith had a team-high four blocks.

NJCAA Quarterfinals: Owens d. Sauk Valley 25-15, 25-22, 25-20

Sauk Valley opened the No. 2 vs No. 10 seed quarterfinal matchup with a 7-2 run, but kills from Pleiman and Olivia Hermiller (Ottawa-Glandorf/Ottawa, Ohio), along with an ace from Angstmann, highlighted a 4-0 run that nearly pulled Owens even.

Sauk Valley remained either tied or ahead for the next several points. Hermiller, who achieved a new season-high in kills with five, produced the first of back-to-back kills along with Tylutki to knot the first set at 10 apiece and spur a 6-0 run that saw Owens take a 14-10 lead.

A pair of kills from Heitkamp pushed the lead to 16-12. Two straight errors by Sauk Valley then gave Owens a 19-13 lead and forced Sauk Valley's first timeout of the set.

Smith, however, had a pair of kills, and a Smith-Pleiman block set up a set winning kill from Hermiller. 

The second set was the closest Owens had all day. After either leading or remaining tied for the first 30 points, Owens fell behind for the first time at 16-15. Sauk Valley pushed its lead to 18-16 moments later, which forced the first timeout of the day for the higher seed.

Owens gradually fought back, and a kill from Pleiman knotted the score at 20. The teams then exchanged the next four points before Owens scored the final three points to take the crucial set. A Pleiman-Smith block started that rally, and a Pleiman kill off an assist from Gray provided the set winner.

In the third and final set, Owens led on 44 of 45 points. The one other point saw a 3-3 tie, and Owens scored three straight following that. Sauk Valley pulled within one a short time later, but Tylutki smacked home a kill down the left side.

The lead was back at one like Brian McKnight following the 19th and 21st points of the set, but Heitkamp picked up a right side kill to spur a 4-0 run that gave Owens a 15-10 lead. Eight points later, Hermiller produced a left side kill and a solo block on back-to-back points to highlight a 4-0 run after Sauk Valley once again had pulled within one.

Following a Sauk Valley timeout, Owens scored three of the next four points. Gyori then had a back row kill before a Sauk Valley serve went long to end the match and send Owens to the semifinals. 

Smith led the way for Owens offensively with nine kills, while Heitkamp, Pleiman and Tylutki each had seven. Tylutki (19) and Gray (17) led in assists, while Angstmann produced the team's lone ace. Gyori (23) and Angstmann (16) led the way in digs. Smith (5) and Pleiman (4) led the team in blocks. 


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