By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, Ohio---The Owens Community College women's volleyball team has ascended to the No. 1 spot in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II poll. It is the first time in the history of the program that the team has achieved the No. 1 ranking at the Division II level.
The program has been knocking on the door of the top spot since last season. After spending the final four weeks of 2016 ranked No. 2, Owens finished third in the country at the NJCAA Division II national tournament, which was the highest finish in program history at the Division II level. Then, the team opened this year at No. 3 in the rankings and spent two weeks there before moving up to No. 2 for the past two weeks.
This week's ranking also gives Owens 12 straight weeks ranked in the nation's top five dating back to Sept. 13 of last year. Furthermore, Owens has spent 23 straight weeks ranked in the top 10 - dating back to the Aug. 19, 2015 poll.
AN HISTORIC START
Owens has opened the season with a 20-0 record overall, which is the best start in program history. The team is also 6-0 in Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) play entering this weekend's home matches against Clark State Community College and Edison State Community College. The team also opened the season by winning its first 48 sets played, which is a program record. The streak ended with an opening set loss to No. 20 Des Moines Area this past weekend.
This past Saturday and Sunday, Owens picked up victories over No. 1 Parkland College, No. 8 Lincoln Land, No. 15 McHenry County and No. 20 Des Moines Area. Parkland is the two-time defending national champion, and Lincoln Land is the two-time defending national runner-up. Lincoln Land also defeated Owens in last year's national semifinals, so the win exacted a bit of revenge there, as well. The win over Des Moines Area was the second of the season for Owens.
With the win over Parkland, Owens won a battle of undefeated teams in a 1 vs 2 matchup. Not only did the loss end a 44-match overall winning streak for Parkland, who had not even been forced to five sets by an NJCAA Division II team since a 3-2 win over Lincoln Land on Sept. 15, 2015, but it was Parkland's first loss to an NJCAA Division II team since the national title game vs Glendale on Nov. 22, 2014 - nearly 140 matches ago. Parkland has been to four straight national title matches, including victories in the past two. On top of that, Parkland had won nine straight against Owens dating back to Sept. 26, 2010 prior to Sunday.
Owens will host Clark State Community College at 6 p.m. on Friday in the Student Health and Activities Center (SHAC). Then, the team will host Edison State Community College at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Prior to Saturday's match, the athletic department will induct its second annual athletic hall of fame class. For more information on that, visit here.
For the full rankings, visit here.