By Chris Schmidbauer, Sports Information Director
Toledo, OH -- In what always is one of the toughest stretches for the volleyball team, the Owens Express played seven matches in three days at their invitational, and the team finished 6-1 overall.
Things started early on Friday with a 10 AM start time against Lansing, and the team didn't finish playing until Sunday afternoon around 2 PM.
Match #1: Owens 3 Lansing 0
The Friday match against the Stars began with a tight contest. Owens would win in straight sets but each one was competitive. The Express won 25-20, 25-19, and 25-21. Tyriana Settles, who has been a force on the front line, led the team with 13 total kills for the match and she finished with 10 digs. Kayla Bekier had eight total kills in the match and two blocks and three block assists. Rebecca Brown continue to be the team's top setter, finishing with 29 assists in the first match of the day, while freshman Olivia Materni led the team in digs with 13. Raelyn Hutchinson was also in the double digits for digs, with 10.
Match #2: Owens 3 Henry Ford 0
After a few hours off, the Express hit the court again against Henry Ford, and Owens dominated the match in three sets. They won 25-9, 25-10, and 25-10 to take their second win of the day. Settles (11 kills) and Bekier (8 kills) were stalwarts on the attack again, combining for 19 kills between the two of them. Shyah Wheeler also finished with eight kills during the match. Brown would have all of the team's 32 assists in the match, while Olivia Materni and Semira Neely led with way in digs with each tallying eight. Hutchinson would have seven digs of her own.
Match #3: Glen Oaks 3 Owens 1
The lone loss of the weekend came in the night cap on Friday evening. Glen Oaks, who came in undefeated as well, won in four sets. Things started off on the right foot for the Express, winning the first set 25-21. But the Vikings would storm back, winning 25-20, 25-17, and 25-18 to win the match in four sets. Tyriana Settles and Kayla Bekier each finished in double digit kills with 18 and 13 respectively. Rebecca Brown would have 40 assists in the loss too. Settles led the team in digs with 19, while Olivia Materni would have 16 of her own. Brown also had 11 digs. Owens struggled with attack errors, finishing with 38 total in the match. Their team kill percentahe was just 5.9%.
Match #4: Owens 3 Sandhills 0
If there was any concern about how they might bounce back after the team's first loss, Owens put any of those fears to rest with a dominant 3-0 win over Sandhills to begin their play on Saturday morning. Owens would win a competitive first set, 25-17, and they would dominate the next two, winning 25-12 and 25-5. Settle rebounded terrifically, finishing with a team high 15 kills. She was also extremely efficient on the attack, finishing with a kill percentage of 65.2%. Brown would net 24 more assists, and Olivia Materni would be the leader in digs for the team with 17. Kayla Bekier and Semira Neely would also finish with three blocks a piece in the victory.
Match #5: Owens 3 Schoolcraft 0
Owens would finish their day on Saturday with another dominating performance, beating Schoolcraft in straight sets. The Express would win the first set 25-17, but much like their morning match against Sandhills, the team would dominate the Ocelots, winning 25-5 and 25-10 to close out the match. Kayla Bekier would lead the team in kills with eight total and sophomore McKinsey Finnen would tally four kills. Rebecca Brown led the team in assists with 20, and Materni would garner 12 digs for the match. Owens adjusted their line up in the match, moving players in to different spots to try and build some depth at different positions.
Match #6: Owens 3 Waubonsee 2
The Express's mettle was tested right away on Sunday morning with a five set match against Waubonsee. The Express would take the first set 25-20 but the Chiefs would come right back and take the second set 25-18. Waubonsee would jump out to a big lead early in the third, but Owens would come back, getting within a few points. With such a large lead though, Owens could not overcome the third set deficit, and Waubonsee would win 25-19. Facing a possible second loss, Owens would trail throughout much of the fourth set. But the Express would rally from a five point deficit to take the fourth set 25-19, to force the match to a fifth set. The Express would take a five point lead at 9-4 in the fifth, and they would lead 14-9 late. The Chiefs would not go quietly though. They would pull the score at 14-13, before Semira Neely would net the match's final kill and give Owens the 3-2 win. Tyriana Settle would lead the team in kills with 15, and Neely, who was a star in the final two sets, had 12 kills of her own and a team high four blocks. Brown, once again, led the team in assists with 37, and Olivia Materni owned the back row with 35 digs while Settles had 24.
Match $7: Owens 3 Erie 0
Owens had little time to reflect on their five set win, as they face Erie immediately following their win over Waubonsee. The Express showed no signs of wear, however, playing their most dominant match of the weekend against the Kats. Owens won 25-6, 25-9, and 25-1 to win their final match of the weekend. Owens, at one point, won the third sets first 19 points in a row before Erie could score. Shyah Wheeler was a force up front, tallying 11 kills on just 13 attempts (84.6 kill percentage) while Kayla Bekier would add 10 kills. Rebecca Brown would have 27 assists, while Semria Neely led the team with six kills. Neely also had 13 total service aces in the match.
After the weekend, Owens now sits 11-1 overall and 1-0 in the OCCAC. After the weeked, Tyriana Settles now leads the nation in kills with 150, while Rebecca Brown is first nationally with 335 assists. Semira Neely is second in the country with 36 aces, and Olivia Materni is second nationally with 154 digs.
The Express get a little bit of a reprieve this week with just one match on the schedule. The team will travel to Lakeland on Wednesday to take on the Lakers in an OCCAC showdown. Match start time will be at 6 PM.
Owens will then get the weekend off, before paying again on Wednesday September 11 at 6:00 PM.