Defiance 3, Bluffton 1
Beavers drop Heartland Conference opener at Defiance, 3-1
September 19, 2007
DEFIANCE, Ohio - The Bluffton University volleyball team struggled for consistency in its Heartland Conference opener, falling to long-time rival Defiance College in four games (30-26, 11-30, 30-23, 31-29) on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007. The Beavers (6-7, 0-1 HCAC) dropped their sixth straight match to the Yellow Jackets (3-10, 1-0 HCAC) who snapped a seven-match losing streak.
Bluffton opened up game one quickly, scoring three straight points behind the serving of junior setter Chelsea Wyse (Archbold/Archbold) as Kayla Pickering (Jamestown/Greenview) pounded two kills. An Allison Streicher (Continental/Continental) putdown and a Brittany Roth (Findlay/Findlay) ace helped the Beavers to an early 10-6 advantage before Defiance got untracked and took advantage of six Bluffton service errors for a 30-26 victory in the lidlifter.
The Beavers regrouped in game two to post a dominating 30-11 victory over the Yellow Jackets. Ahead by a slim 5-4 margin, Brittany Roth carved up the Defiance defense for eight straight points, including three Michele Rosen (Harrison/Harrison) kills and one from freshman Crystal Augsburger (Bowling Green/Bowling Green). Pickering dropped in a pair of aces and freshman Shauna Rowland (Bucyrus/Wynford) served the final seven points for the lopsided 30-11 final.
Unable to maintain the momentum that they built in game two, the Beavers found themselves in a 7-1 hole to start the third game. Five straight points with Yellow Jacket Kelsey Ferguson on serve allowed Defiance to push its cushion to nine points (19-10) midway through the game. Wyse and Roth brought Bluffton back to within five points, but a pair of Lauren Aldridge kills and another Beaver ball handling error put the game out of reach at 25-17. With Kate Barnett (North Bloomfield/Lakeview) serving, the Defiance lead was trimmed to four, 27-23, before the Jackets scored the final three points for a 30-23 win.
Game four saw Defiance make a 6-1 run midway through, breaking a 14-14 tie and giving the Yellow Jackets a 20-15 advantage. Bluffton's Kayla Pickering kept the Beavers in the match with eight kills in the fourth game as Bluffton forged its way to a 29-28 lead, but a ball handling error and a pair of Ferguson service points allowed Defiance to finish the match with a 31-29 victory for a 3-1 win in the HCAC opener for both teams.
Bluffton finished with 60 kills to only 37 for the Yellow Jackets as the Beavers hit .158 for the match compared to .048 for the home team. The Beavers rifled 10 service aces, but their 17 service errors and 11 ball handling errors proved too much to overcome.
Rosen tied her career-best with 20 kills for a .167 hitting percentage. Pickering knocked down 18 kills on only seven errors for a .256 hitting percentage. Rachel Alvarez (Convoy/Crestview) and Rowland chipped in with nine and eight kills, respectively. Wyse equaled her career-high with 29 assists and Shauna Rowland set up the Bluffton hitters 22 times. Rowland ended the evening with 13 digs and four service aces. Defensively, Roth upped her career-best by three digs as she finished with 34. Pickering picked up 17 digs for her fourth career double-double.
The Beavers return to action on Wednesday, Sept. 26, when they travel to St. Ursuline. The match is slated to start at 7 p.m.