By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, Ohio---Olivia Hermiller (Ottawa-Glandorf/Ottawa, Ohio) had a career-best weekend to lead the No. 2 Owens Community College women's volleyball team to a sweep of the Parkland Invitational - including wins over No. 1 Parkland College, No. 8 Lincoln Land Community College, No. 15 McHenry County College and No. 20 Des Moines Area Community College.
In doing so, Owens is now 20-0 overall and well positioned to assume the top ranking in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II poll that is released on Tuesday.
Match 17: No. 2 Owens d. No. 20 Des Moines Area 16-25, 25-16, 25-15, 25-19
In, perhaps, the biggest regular season weekend in the program's history, Owens opened the weekend with its second win of 2017 over No. 20 Des Moines Area (DMACC). They also defeated DMACC in three sets on Aug. 25, which was the team's second match of the season.
This time, DMACC broke the program record 48 set winning streak for Owens in the opening set, but Owens bounced back with three straight behind season-highs in kills from Devon Heitkamp (New Bremen/New Bremen, Ohio) and Michaela Eisenhauer (Margaretta/Castalia, Ohio).
Heitkamp produced 15 kills, which was her fifth match with at least 10 or more this season. She also added two block assists. Eisenhauer, meanwhile, had 12 kills at a .346 clip along with four block assists and one dig.
Hermiller finished tied with Erika Angstmann (St. Marys/St. Marys, Ohio) for third on the team in kills with eight.
The setter duo of Carrigan Gray (Liberty-Benton/Findlay, Ohio) and Summer Sweeting (South Central/North Fairfield, Ohio) produced 31 and 13 assists, respectively. Gray established a new season-high in that category and both players have notched double digit assists in every match this year.
Angstmann and Niki Polce (Huron/New Boston, Mich.) each tied for the team-high in digs with 17. For Angstmann, it was a new season-high. Gray added nine, Cassidy Wlodarz (Cardinal Stritch/Oregon, Ohio) chipped in eight, and Madison Lammers (New Knoxville/New Knoxville, Ohio) had six.
Lammers and Eisenhauer led the team with four block assists apiece, while Jordan Alt (Ottawa-Glandorf/Ottawa, Ohio) had three.
As a team, Owens hit just .215 with 25 errors, but held DMACC to a .127 percentage and 19 errors.
Match 18: No. 2 Owens d. No. 8 Lincoln Land 25-22, 24-26, 25-22, 25-23
In the second match on Saturday, No. 2 Owens got a little bit of revenge on the two-time defending national runner-up with a four set win over No. 8 Lincoln Land, who defeated Owens in the national semifinals last year.
Hermiller was a big factor in the match with a career-high 18 kills at a .783 clip. She also added four block assists and two digs. Alt also established a new season-high with 13 kills at a .476 clip. It was her first match with at least 10 kills. Angstmann chipped in 10 kills, too.
Defensively, Polce led the way with 25 digs. Wlodarz (20) and Sweeting (15) each established new season-highs in digs, while Gray and Angstmann had 10 apiece. Heitkamp had a team-high five block assists, and Hermiller had four.
Gray (27) and Sweeting (25) combined for 52 of the team's 53 assists with Polce getting the other one. Wlodarz and Lammers each had two of the team's six service aces.
In the crucial third set, Owens hit a match-high .364 with 17 kills and just five errors over 33 attempts.
Match 19: No. 2 Owens d. No. 1 Parkland 20-25, 25-23, 25-18, 21-25, 17-15
In the biggest regular season win in program history, the No. 2 Owens volleyball team knocked off No. 1 Parkland in a five set thriller that saw Owens battle back from a six point deficit late in the fifth set.
After Parkland forced a fifth set, the home team scored the first five points of the deciding set. Hermiller then made a diving, one-handed dig with her left hand, which led to an Eisenhauer pass to Polce for a two-handed push kill that put Owens on the board.
Heitkamp then teamed with Eisenhauer and Hermiller for back-to-back block assists that pulled Owens within two, but Parkland had back-to-back kills, followed by a block of Hermiller to take a 9-4 lead. Following a second timeout for Owens, Heitkamp picked up a pair of kills to pull Owens within four.
Parkland responded with two straight kills for a 12-6 lead. Owens, however, got an Angstmann kill, a Parkland two-hit violation, an Angstmann ace, a Parkland attack error, an Eisenhauer kill and a Lammers kill to tie things up at 12 and force a Parkland timeout.
Out of the break, Parkland took the lead with a kill, but Alt hammered home an overpass for a 13-all tie. Following that, Parkland sent an attack into the net to give Owens match point, but Parkland tied it up. Owens had another match point after a back row attack, but another kill tied it. The next serve for Parkland sailed long to give Owens its third match point. This time, Hermiller slammed home an overpass for a kill to set off the celebration.
Both teams entered the match undefeated. Not only did the loss end a 44-match 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 a loss in the national title game to 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.
Offensively, Hermiller and Lammers came through in a big way with 16 kills apiece. It was a career-high for Lammers, who had to sit out last year due to injury. Angstmann continued her strong play, as well, with 10 kills. Gray (24) and Sweeting (23) combined for 47 assists, and Polce chipped in four. Angstmann also had a team-high two aces.
Alt, Lammers, Heitkamp, Hermiller and Eisenhauer each had three block assists. Polce (22), Wlodarz (13), Anstmann (12), Gray (10) and Sweeting (9) led the way in digs. Eisenhauer also chipped in seven.
Match 20: No. 2 Owens d. No. 15 McHenry County 25-22, 25-18, 25-23
Following the biggest regular season win in the program's history, Owens had to collect itself mentally and battle No. 15 McHenry County in a potential trap game. It wasn't pretty, but Owens pulled out a straight set win over a tough team to remain undefeated.
Owens hit just .250, .192 and .162 over the three sets, but held McHenry County to a .176 hitting percentage. Angstmann led the team with 12 kills at a .500 clip, while Hermiller had 10. Gray (23) and Sweeting (10) led in assists, and Polce added three along with a team-highs in aces (4) and digs (10).
Lammers added eight digs, while Sweeting and Wlodarz each had five. Heitkamp had a team-high two block assists.
No. 2 Owens will await the results of Tuesday's poll to see if they have indeed moved up to No. 1 in the country. It would be the program's first No. 1 ranking since moving to the Division II level in 2001.
Following that, Owens will host Clark State Community College at 6 p.m. on Friday before also hosting Edison State Community College at 11 a.m. on Saturday.