11/18/05 — Fighting Scots end Mount Olive's season

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Fighting Scots end Mount Olive's season

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on November 18, 2005 2:05 PM

MOC Sports Information

LOCK HAVEN, Pa. -- The final outcome didn't go their way, but Mount Olive College volleyball seniors Heidi Busch, Sara Christie and Colby Mangum were at least able to count themselves among the few to end their collegiate playing careers in an NCAA Championship.

No. 6 seed Mount Olive fought off four game points in game two and had four chances to even the match, but No. 3 seed Edinboro held on and defeated the Trojans 30-24, 38-36, 30-23 in the first round of the Atlantic Regional of the 2005 NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championship Thursday at Lock Haven, Pa.

Mount Olive finishes its season with a record of 28-8, posting its highest-ever single-season winning percentage (.778) in the Division II era. The Trojans won 13 of their final 15 matches.

"We felt really good going into the match," said Christie. "We competed well with Edinboro the first time we played them and felt that we were evenly matched."

Mount Olive fell to Edinboro in four games on October 14, losing two of the games by margins of 33-31 and 30-27. The Trojans were without Christie at setter for a good part of the match.

In Thursday's match, Busch led Mount Olive with 14 kills as she finishes her career with 2,456 kills, the fifth-highest total in NCAA II history.

Mount Olive held an early lead in game one, but Edinboro (26-15) rode Jenna Benkelman's serve to a 6-0 run and a 17-9 lead. The Trojans pulled within 25-21 as Christie's assist moved her into sole possession of 13th place on the NCAA II career assists list.

After Edinboro scored the next two points, Mount Olive went on a 3-0 run to pull within 27-24. But Edinboro scored the final three points to take the first game.

Game two was almost a direct opposite of game one as Mount Olive jumped out to an eight-point lead over the Fighting Scots. Mallory Peavler made a dig on what looked like would be a certain kill by Edinboro's Jenna Newman to help spark a 12-3 run as Anna Luft's kill gave Mount Olive a 19-11 lead.

But Edinboro used Alicia Knauf's hitting in the middle as the Fighting Scots pulled within a point at 21-20. The two teams exchanged a series of sideouts until Edinboro scored four unanswered points to take a 28-25 lead.

Mount Olive scored the next three points to tie the game, but Edinboro broke the tie and move within a point of taking a two-game lead. A battle of wills then ensued between the two teams.

The Trojans used kills by Luft and Sam Mitchell to fight off a pair of game points and Mount Olive served for game point at 31-30. Edinboro saved one game point and served for its third game point at 32-31, but Christie's kill tied the game and Mangum's kill put the Trojans back on top 33-32.

Edinboro fought off a game point on a Trojan service error and regained the lead 34-33 on Amelia Robinson's ace. But an Edinboro attack error tied the game again and Mount Olive went ahead 35-34 on a service ace by Mangum.

Edinboro tied the game again on Kristen Perkins' kill, but Mount Olive took a 36-35 lead on a Fighting Scot attack error as the Trojans had its fourth game point. But Edinboro setter Ashley Cottengim tied the game with a kill and after a Trojan attack error, Cottengim recorded another kill to give Edinboro a two-game lead.

The Trojan players admitted that game two took a lot out of the team.

"It was tough coming back in game three," said Busch. "We wanted to bounce right back, but we just couldn't get into our game."

"Game two was a very exciting, well-played game," said Mangum. "But when you go that far into a game and wind up on the losing end, it's a definite momentum breaker."

"I think if we could have come up with the win in game two, that might have given us the momentum to win the match," said Christie.

Game three was even early on, but Edinboro used a mini-run to take a 14-10 lead and Mount Olive never got any closer than two points the rest of the way. Nikki Murphy, who moved from libero to defensive specialist in game three, recorded a kill as the Trojans pulled within 22-20. But Edinboro scored eight of the final 11 points to seal the win and advance to Friday's semifinal.

Mitchell finished with 11 kills, while Mangum tallied nine kills and Luft added eight kills. Mangum also recorded a team-high three blocks and Busch led the Trojans with eight digs.

Christie finished with 36 assists to give her 5,992 for her career.

Alicia Knouff led Edinboro with 16 kills and a .636 hitting percentage, while Newman added 15 kills. Benkelman, Newman and Robinson shared match-high honors with three aces apiece. Cottengim recorded 46 assists.

Trojan second-year head coach Sasha Gutor was pleased with his team's play on the day and for the season.

"This was a very successful season," said Gutor. "We were much improved from last season."

Gutor also had praise for his three seniors.

"Sara, Heidi and Colby have done a lot for Mount Olive volleyball," said Gutor. "They will be greatly missed."

Mount Olive's senior trio finish their career with a four-year record of 109-42 (.722), the most wins by any Trojan volleyball class. While disappointed in Thursday's result, the three seniors were proud of what they accomplished in their career.

"It feels good to finish our career at the NCAA Tournament," said Christie. "It's been a tough four years, but a good four years."

"One of our goals in our career was to win a conference title and we did that this year, so that was very special," said Busch. "And it means a lot to be part of the first team to make it to the NCAA Tournament and to get there two years in a row."

"It's hard to believe it's over," said Mangum. "We were able to get some big wins, especially during our senior year. We came up short today, but then again, unless you win a national championship, you always want more.

"It was very special to get to spend four years with Sara and Heidi. I couldn't have asked for two better people to play with and I couldn't have asked for two better friends."