By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, OH---The Express volleyball team lost a tough 28-30, 25-22, 11-25, 22-25 match to Sinclair Community College in the SHAC tonight.
With the loss, the Express fell into sole possession of third place in the OCCAC and saw their OCCAC title hopes become slim. The Express, who have won the last three OCCAC titles, as well as 12 of the last 13, are now three games behind Columbus State in the standings with four to play.
After being down early in the first set, the Express made a run to force a back-and-forth set. Down 16-19, the Express rallied to tie the set at 20-all thanks to two kills from Ciarra Wirick and a block from Tiffani Hobbs, as well as an out of bounds attack from Sinclair. Following that, neither team was separated by more than a point until the final two points, which saw a bad pass and a Wirick attack error out of bounds to end it.
The Express had a chance to take the set, as they were up 26-25, but Sinclair's Jessica Thobe produced a kill to tie it up. Sinclair then missed two chances at game point before converting the third chance via the Wirick error.
In the second set, the Express came out strong and led 10-5 early, and they wouldn't trail again in the set - although Sinclair pulled within one at 23-22. At that point, Dominique Yates had a stuff block and Jazmine Thomas had a tip shot kill to win the set.
The third set was all Sinclair. They led 8-3 early on before an Owens timeout resulted in a Stephanie Kipp kill on the next point. Sinclair then won five straight to take a 13-4 lead before eventually stretching the lead to as many as 15 at 24-9. Kipp had back-to-back kills at that point before a Sinclair kill put the Tartan Pride up a set.
In the fourth set, Sinclair took a 12-7 lead and forced an Owens timeout and then stretched the lead to 16-10. That was when the Express rallied for eight straight points, starting with a kill from Kayla Siefker.
Siefker's kill was followed by a Wirick/Siefker block, an ace from Jessica Cooper, a bad pass from Sinclair and a Kenzie Kleinhenz/Siefker block. That forced a timeout from Sinclair with the Express down just one.
Out of the timeout, Wirick had a kill, followed by another block from Kleinhenz and Siefker, and another ace from Cooper that put the Express up 18-16. Sinclair then rallied for three straight points to take a 19-18 lead before the set saw a back-and-forth finish.
Kennedy Geyman's ace gave the Express a 20-19 lead. Later, a quick set kill from Thomas put the Express up 22-21, but Sinclair closed the set out with four straight points, including three straight unforced errors by the Express to finish it.
Kipp had a solid game for the Express with a team-high 16 kills, while Wirick added 10 and Thomas had nine. Wirick led the team with 24 assists, while Cooper added 15. Geyman had a team-high three aces, while Lisa Urbanski (13), Geyman (11) and Wirick (10) led the Express in digs. Aricka LaVoy also chipped in nine digs. Siefker, Thomas, Kleinhenz and Hobbs each had three blocks to lead the team.
The Express are now 11-16 overall and 5-3 in OCCAC play. They will return to action tomorrow afternoon with a pair of matches. At 11 a.m., they will take on Edison Community College, followed by a 2:30 p.m. match against St. Clair County Community College.
Sinclair (28-3, 7-1 OCCAC) swept the season series from the Express with today's win.
Kipp's 16 kills marks a season-high for her, breaking her previous mark of 15 against Wallace State on Oct. 5.