OTTAWA, Kan. – Avila volleyball's longest-ever run in the KCAC Tournament came to an end at the hands of top-seeded Ottawa, with the Braves (28-7, 22-2 KCAC) taking down the #8-seeded Eagles (14-20, 10-14 KCAC) in straight sets in the semifinals of the 2020 KCAC Volleyball Championship on Thursday evening in Ottawa.
Remarkably, the Braves won all three sets by the exact same scoreline: 25-15. Ottawa won the blocking battle and the serving battle and flexed its multi-faceted offense en route to the straight sets victory and a spot in the semifinals next weekend.
Even at four apiece in the first set, Avila made the first major surge of the contest, getting a block and a kill from D'Ovion Williams as part of a 4-0 run to vault ahead 8-4. Ottawa rallied, getting a pair of service aces from Kaitlyn Haller to level the score at 12 apiece. A kill from Katelyn Payan snapped that mini Ottawa surge, but the Braves closed the first set scoring 10 of the final 11 points to claim the first set.
Ottawa was in control for much of the second set. The Eagles rallied from a slim early deficit for three straight points on kills from Hannah Lentell and Kate Warren to tie things up at eight apiece, and after Chloe Brundick notched a kill to keep the Eagles within 11-10 the Braves surged, winning the next eight points to take command of the set en route to a win.
With their backs against the wall and their place in the tournament at stake, the Eagles started the third set strong, getting an ace from Maria Valleroy and a kill from newly-minted right side hitter Lauren Harrell as part of a 5-0 run to grab an 8-3 edge. Just as they did in the first set, though, the Braves rallied to tie it at eight apiece and grab the lead.
Another kill from Payan once again helped snap an Ottawa surge and keep the Eagles within 12-11, but they would get no closer. Ottawa scored five of the next six to push ahead, and Caitlyn Cox delivered kills on the final two points of the match to lift Ottawa to a three-set win and a spot in the KCAC Tournament Semifinals.
Midseason addition Megan Wall paced the Braves with nine kills on an excellent .474 hitting percentage. She was one of five Braves to tally either eight or nine kills in their multi-faceted offense. Williams led the Eagles with eight kills of her own, while libero Aspen Kridner led all players with 17 digs in her final game as an Eagle.
The defeat brings to an end one of the best seasons in recent Avila volleyball history, and the best season the team has had since the school joined the KCAC. The 14 wins in this marathon season that stretched from September to April were the most the Eagles have had since the 2015 season. Three years removed from a five-win season in 2017, Avila earned the #8 seed in the 2020 KCAC Tournament and hosted a first-round playoff game, winning that contest to advance to the second round for the first time in years. One of the best blocking teams in the country with both of its two main middles set to return next season, Avila volleyball looks primed to take another step forward in the fall of 2021.