By Chris Schmidbauer, Sports Information Director
Butler, PA -- Another historic season of Owens volleyball just keeps getting better. On Saturday afternoon, Owens defeated Lorain County, for the fourth time this season, to win the District I/J Title at Butler Community College in Pennsylvania.
Owens began tournament play on Friday afternoon against Anne Arundel out of Arnold, MD. The Riverhawks came into the District Tournament with a 6-12 record overall. The Express were very impressive in a three game sweep, winning 25-11, 25-9, and 25-18. The Express would get another dominant performance from Michaela Eisenhauer. Eisenhauer, who is the reigning OCCAC Player of the Week, had 15 kills in the match to lead Owens. She also had five digs during the match as well. Kennedy Ames would finish with eight kills, while Kayla Bekier would have seven kills. Summer Sweeting would be the leader in assists. She would finish with 15 total in the match, and she also had two service aces. Kara Schafer had eight assits, which placed her second on the team during the match.
The Express would get a short break, before taking on Sand Hills in the nightcap. The Flyers came into the match 24-3, and Owens would again sweep the match for the second time on the day, winning all three sets by a final of 25-16. Once again, Michaela Eisenhauer would lead the way at the net, finishing with 14 kills. Kayla Bekier continued her successful day, having 12 kills of her own during the match against Sand Hills. Summer Sweeting had 32 assists and three service aces, making it five total on the day for the sophomore. Kiah Wendel was a digging machine, garnering 19 during the three sets.
Saturday brought a semifinal matchup with the tournament host, the Butler Pioneers. Butler was 18-4 overall coming into the match. Owens would dominate from the first serve, winning the first two sets 25-6. With a 2-0 lead, the Express would put Butler to bed, winning 25-11. Kennedy Ames was the main catalyst on the attack, finishing with a team high 11 kills in the match and whopping 84.6% attack percentage. Michaela Eisenhauer would finish with nine kills and a team high 11 digs in the match. Summer Sweeting continued her terrific setting, tallying up 15 assists, and she finished with two service aces. Kara Schafer would also have nine assists for the Express and two service aces to her credit too. The win meant Owens clinched a spot in the Division III National Championship next weekend.
However, there was still a championship match to play, and it would be against a familiar foe, Lorain County. Owens and the Commodores squared off for the Region XII title last weekend. The Express were tested in the opening set, winning just 25-20. The second two sets were a different story. Owens would win the second set 25-8 and the third set 25-10. The Express would use the power of their serve in the title match, finishing with 11 total service aces. Kennedy Ames had four aces during the match, while Summer Sweeting had two. Michaela Eisenhauer was dominant up front, with a team high 14 kills. Kayla Bekier's terrific weekend ended with her racking up 11 kills against Lorain. Sweeting and Kara Schafer had 23 and 18 assists respectively. Kiah Wendel would finish with 10 digs in the match.
Owens is now 37-6 overall on the season. They have won 12 consecutive matches in a row, and they did not drop a single set over the Region XII or District Tournaments. One would have to go al the way back to October 6 to find the last time the Express lost a set during a match.
With the district title in hand, Owens will now turn their attention to the NJCAA Division III National Volleyball Championship. The tournament will be played in Rochester, Minnesota at the UCR Regional Sports Center. Play will begin on November 8th against an opponent that is yet to be determined. The Express will leave for the tournament this coming Tuesday. Last season, Owens reached the NJCAA Division II National Championship match, before falling to Coffeyville in the title round.
- The All OCCAC awards were handed out Friday afternoon, and the Express, as expected, took home several awards. Michaela Eisenhauer took home the top award, being named the 2018 OCCAC Player of the Year. Summer Sweeting took home Setter of the Year in the conference as well. Both Sweeting and Eisenhauser, along with freshman Kara Evers were named First Team All-Conference. Evers was also aa member of the All-Freshman team as well. Kiah Wendel was named as an Honorable Mention for this year as well. Finally, Eisenhauer and Sweeting were named to the All-Region Team.