Volleyball comes up just short in quest for elusive national title
Getting tripped up in the semifinals of the NJCAA Division II National Tournament in Wisconsin Dells, WI, the third-seeded Cowley College volleyball team could have let the disappointment linger. However, the team displayed the toughness and grit that helped them win 34 matches this season by bouncing back and defeating No. 12-seed Glendale (AZ) Community College to finish third at the national tournament.
The third place finish marks the sixth straight season the Lady Tiger volleyball team has placed in the top-five nationally.
After winning their first two matches at the tournament, the Lady Tigers were eager to get another shot at playing Jayhawk Conference rival Johnson County in the semis.
Things started well for Cowley as they won game one 25-22. After the Lady Cavaliers took game two by a score of 25-23, the Tigers came back strong with a 25-15 win of game three.
One win away from advancing to the national title game for a second straight year, Cowley was unable to close out Johnson County in game four as the Lady Cavaliers won 25-22.
In the fifth and final game, Cowley was within one point of closing out the match as they led 14-11 before Johnson County rattled off five straight points to win 16-14 and advance to the national title game. The Lady Cavaliers would go on to lose to No. 9-seed Pasco-Hernando (FL) Community College (24- 26, 25-13, 21-25, 25-23, 12-15) in the title match.
Johnson County handed Cowley two of its four losses this season as the Lady Tigers finished the season with a record of 34-4.
“We wanted to get back to the national championship match and also beat Johnson County,” Cowley head coach Jenifer Bahner said. “At the national tournament you have got to be consistent. We were either really high or really low, we lacked that stability and Johnson County just kind of outlasted us.”
Sophomore Roslandy Acosta led Cowley with 20 kills and 22 assists in the defeat. Freshman Emily Barto added 12 kills, while Lindsey Chandler chipped in with 11 kills.
In the third place match, Cowley easily won the first two games 25-10, 25-15, before losing game three by a score of 25-15. The Lady Tigers would regroup and finish the match by winning game four 25-21.
“Prior to the match vs. Glendale we talked about how do we want to remember our season,” Bahner said. “We wanted to make a statement that we were still a good team.”
Acosta finished with 15 kills and 15 assists in the win. Chandler added eight kills, while Kelsy Patterson, Molley Scanlon, and Elena Berroteran contributed seven kills apiece. Along with her seven kills, Scanlon led Cowley with 24 assists.
Cowley will say goodbye to seven sophomores including two-time Jayhawk East Most Valuable Player, Roslandy Acosta.
“Rose is probably one of the top kids to come through this program in a long time,” Bahner said. “She stepped up so much for us and I believe was the best player at the national tournament.”
Berroteran, a first-team all-conference libero, and Chandler, a second-team all-conference middle hitter will also be missed, as will Kaitlin Stearns, Kelsy Patterson, Meghan Cahill, and Sarah Skinner, who all made valuable contributions to the team during their two years at the school.
“These sophomores put together two great years here and each one brought something different to the team,” Bahner said. “They have definitely left their mark on the program.”
Acosta and Berroteran were each named to the All- Tournament Team for the second year in a row.
“Elena is the true definition of a volleyball player and was an extremely valuable part of our team,” Bahner said.
With Jayhawk East Freshman of the Year Emily Barto set to return along with starting setter Molley Scanlon, next season looks promising. Also returning will be outside hitter Danika Maggard and defensive specialist Shanna Seyfarth.
“This has been a great season,” Bahner said. “Our goal now is to use this to drive us to do well next year.”