By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – As if Friday night's win was not exhilarating enough, the Capital University volleyball team outdid itself on Saturday on the second day of the Pam Briggs Memorial Classic. The Purple and White earned a split with a thrilling five-set win over St. John Fisher University, improving their record to 2-2 on the year.
GETTING WARMED UP
Capital opened up action Saturday morning against Defiance College but was swept up by the Yellow in straight sets (25-22, 25-17, 25-10). Despite outhitting Defiance in the opening set, the Crusaders were unable to hold on in a 25-22 loss. The Yellow Jackets rode that momentum and made each subsequent set win by a larger margin as Cap's attack percentages fell steadily.
On the defensive front, sophomore Erin O'Connell (Lyndhurst, Ohio / Gilmour Academy) led both sides with a new personal best 23 digs.
Defiance's standout statistic hid behind its work at the service line, where it tallied 12 aces to Capital's two.
REV IT UP!
While the numbers may not have been there in the opening match, Capital came back later in the afternoon to close out the tournament against St. John Fisher University. That match was a classic roller coaster with the Crusaders dominating the opening two frames, then dropping the next two only to set up a dramatic fifth.
Capital outhit St. John Fisher in each of the first two sets (.220/.119 and .303/.147) with Leighann Osborne crushing it early on. However, a 5-1 rally by the Cardinals in the third set lit a spark that halted Cap's progress toward win number two. The numbers on the offensive end did an about-face to favor St. John Fisher and before the place knew it, the match was tied at two sets apiece.
The Cardinals clearly had the momentum even opening the fifth and final frame. St. John Fisher took a 7-2 lead in the fifth, which to many signaled the end of the match. Senior Kirsten Jutte (Fort Recovery, Ohio/Fort Recovery), who had described the team as "resilient" in discussions before the start of the season, showed all exactly what that meant. Her kill sparked a three-point run and Capital flipped the script on the Cardinals by scoring eight of the next nine points.
Down 8-7, sophomore right-side hitter Delanie Nahikian (Allegan, Mich. / Allegan) powered the offense with three consecutive kills to take a 10-8 lead. The Cardinals managed to tie the game at 10, but Nahikian put the kibosh on any comeback with yet another kill and the first of five consecutive points by the Crusaders to seal the victory. Nahikian was also in on the game-ending block when she paired up with freshman Caleigh Hamby to bat down Lindsey DeBonis' attack on the far pin for the win. The final score was 25-23, 25-17, 16-25, 14-25, 15-10.
Nahikian had a fantastic show with 13 kills and just two errors (.333), plus two block assists.
Leighann Osborne led the Crusaders with 14 kills on 45 attempts (.178) and tallied another double-double when paired with 16 digs.
O'Connell finished with a 17 digs, second only to Jordan's 26.
Alea Steigerwald of St. John Fisher was fed 63 times and converted 33 of those attempts to hit for an impressive 42.9 percent in the match. She also added 10 digs and was one of five Cardinals to hit double-figure dig totals.
Sophomore Erin O'Connell was tabbed with All-Tournament honors after a coaches' vote was tallied following the tournament. In four matches, O'Connell 67 digs, which matches her entire output from her freshman campaign, tossed in four service aces, 17 assists, and three kills.
After playing four times at home to open the season, Capital will play its next nine away from The Capital Center. Its next game will be on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at Earlham College (Ind.). First service is set for 7 p.m.