By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University volleyball team opened the 2019 campaign at home as the co-host of the inaugural Pam Briggs Memorial Classic. The Crusaders battled as a team through two matches and with a win over Lawrence University (N.Y.) got the chance to celebrate on their home court for the first time in a long time.
STRUGGLE VERSUS HIRAM
Capital opened the tournament with a strong Hiram College team out of the North Coast Athletic Conference. Hiram, which went 23-5 a season ago, breezed through the first two sets of Friday afternoon's match with the Crusaders with .256 and .306 hit percentages, respectively.
Capital nearly stole a set from the Terriers in the third but was unable to hold on as Hiram mounted a 10-1 rally to overtake the Crusaders and end the match. Jaya Martin contributed three kills during the rally and Kayla Cole took the Terriers home by serving the final four points, including the ace that ended the match
LEADERS ON BOTH SIDES
- Lindsey Walker of Hiram led both teams with 12 kills and a .250 hit percentage and completed the double-double effort with 13 digs. She also chipped in two block assists and a service ace.
- Jaya Martin (Hiram) had a strong performance which included nine kills, four aces and four block assists.
- Capital senior Kirsten Jutte (Fort Recovery, Ohio/Fort Recovery) paced the Crusaders with nine kills and hit .222.
- In her Capital debut, sophomore Emily Cooper recorded 18 assists and three digs.
THE BIG ONE
While Capital's attack numbers were not where they would like them to be, they were consistent enough to ride out its first victory in more than a year. Five-point rallies in the middle of the first and second sets guided the Crusaders toward a 2-0 lead over the Lawrence University Vikings. Though LU was able to steal one back in the third, the Crusaders overcame its previous shortcoming to close out a match by doing just that for its first win of the season.
The Crusaders broke open for an eight-point lead in the middle of the fourth set through a myriad of attack errors by the Vikings, led by junior Jessica Gavlak at the service line. That cushion was more than enough to guide Cap to a 25-19 fourth-frame win to clinch the match.
GAME TWO HEROES
- Kirsten Jutte shared the team lead for kills in the match with junior Leighann Osborne (10), though Osborne hit for her first double-double of the season after adding 10 digs.
- Capital, led by Emily Cooper, tallied 11 service aces to Lawrence's six. Cooper led CU with three.
- Cooper also bettered her previous mark with 24 assists in the win, which paired nicely with nine digs.
- Miranda Jordan and Carlie Wilson also contributed on the offensive end, each turning in eight kills.
The Crusaders will make a quick turnaround for an 11 a.m. matchup with Defiance College at The Capital Center. Defiance split its opening day doubleheader on Friday with a 3-0 loss to Otterbein University and a 3-0 win over Lawrence.
ABOUT THE PAM BRIGGS MEMORIAL CLASSIC
This year's tournament, co-hosted by Otterbein University and Capital University, was renamed to the Pam Briggs Memorial Classic in honor of late Capital Volleyball head coach, Pam Briggs. Briggs was an enthusiastic young coach that returned back to Columbus after her playing days at Kent State University and joined the Capital staff in 1992. She was promoted to head coach of the Crusaders volleyball program in 1994 and then went on to have a stellar 21-year career in which she won over 400 matches, was a 2-time OAC champion and NCAA Tournament participant, and was named 2005 AVCA Regional Coach of the Year. She was also credited for helping start the Capital women's golf program and helped breed countless successful young women for great athletic and academic careers, and post-graduate lives.
Briggs was not only a warrior on the court but in life as well. In 2014 she stepped aside from coaching to take on a bigger opponent, cancer. She was a first-ballot Hall of Famer at Capital and was inducted into the Capital Athletics Hall of Fame in September 2017. That winter, Pam Briggs passed away. This tournament will now honor her memory and the impact she had on countless young women on and off the court.