PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP, Ohio 11/19/19 -- For the second straight year, the Owens Express Volleyball team is the NJCAA Division III National Champion. The Express swept their way to the program's second consecutive national championship on Saturday evening, defeating conference rival Columbus State 3-0 in the championship match.
The national title was a fitting end to another dominant season for the Express on the volleyball court. Owens began the season as the preseason No. 1 ranked team heading into the 2019 campaign. The Express lost 10 of the 14 players from the year's previous national title team, losing their top three attackers, their top setter, and their starting libero from the year before. Despite the lack of experience, Owens found a way to win their first seven matches in a row to begin the season. After a loss to Glen Oaks on August 30, the Express would reel off 16 straight victories.
The Express never lost consecutive matches more than once all season, and the team hasn't lost a set since their Region XII championship match against Columbus State back on October 26. Owens also kept their regular season OCCAC winning streak alive, having now won 76 consecutive regular season matches. The Express captured their fifth straight OCCAC title this season as well.
The Express won the Region XII tournament and the Mid-Atlantic District Tournament, beating the Cougars both times.
The Express finished the season with a record of 43-4, marking the fifth straight year where the team has won 40 or more games. They finished three wins shy of the all-time mark of 46 victories in a season set by the 2000 and 2002 team. The 43 wins also marks the second most wins in a season since 1994.
Owens had two players named to the Division III NJCAA All Tournament Team. Kayla Bekier, who had 33 total kills during the tournament, including 15 against Brookhaven, and Rebecca Brown, who is the program's new assists leader for a single season, tallied 133 total assists in the three game tournament run. Brown finishes with 1,648 total assists for the season, which was best in the country in Division III.
Tyriana Settles was named the tournament's MVP. She had a team high 41 kills during the three game run, and she also finished with 26 digs in the championship match. She finished as the national leader for Division III for kills with 640 total on the season.
Sonny Lewis, who won his 700th career game back on October 26, was named the Coach of the Year for the second straight season. Lewis is now 708-200 in 19 years as the head coach of the Express. He has won 78% of the games he has coached at Owens.
The back to back National Championships is the second time an athletic program has completed such a feat in the school's history. The Owens Men's Basketball program won back to back titles in the 1991-1992 and the 1992-1993 seasons.