By Michael Stewart, Assistant Sports Editor
The Oklahoma Baptist Women’s Volleyball team had an action-packed week.
In four days, the Lady Bison played four away matches, earning two wins and two losses. The week started off in Durant, OK Tuesday, September 11 as the Lady Bison faced off against their Great American Conference (GAC) foe Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Heading into the match-up, the Lady Bison knew it would be a difficult challenge.
“We knew we had to play with a winning mentality from the beginning,” senior Hayden Blair said. “It was going to have to be a team effort.”
The Lady Bison came ready to play as they dominated the match from the start.
The first set saw two 4-0 runs bring OBU out to an early 8-5 lead. From there, the Lady Bison would only surrender six more points to SOSU for the rest of the set, which was the fewest points allowed in a set by OBU this season. This claimed a 25-11 win in the first set, putting OBU up 1-0. After a slow first frame, SOSU was able to keep pace with OBU for more of the second frame as the match was tied 15-15 at the midway point.
However, a string of errors by SOSU saw OBU inch past them and ultimately gain a 2-0 set lead. The third set featured a solid defensive effort by OBU, recording five blocks in the set to close out the match.
“The team did a great of job of serving and defending all night long,” Blair said. “The girls rallied together and really played for each other.”
Sophomore Malia Leatherland finished with a team-high nine kills, and freshman Jenna Gremmel led the team with 17 assists. The win moved OBU to 2-0 in the GAC, something the team has done for the fourth straight year. The Lady Bison had a quick turnaround as they faced off against Southern Nazarene University in another GAC match on Thursday, September 13 in Bethany, OK.
“We knew it was going to be another difficult road test,” senior Nicole Fleitman said. “They always put up a good fight and play to win.”
After a slow start, OBU had to battle its way back from an early deficit. The Lady Bison were able to take advantage often attacking errors by SNU and level the score at 1-1.
In the third set, the OBU offense was able to find its rhythm and earn a 2-1 set lead over the Crimson Tide. With their backs against the wall, SNU was able to rally against OBU and would steal a tightly contested fourth set and eventually snatch the win from the Lady Bison in a fifth set.
“Although we didn’t get the win, we had a lot of things to be proud about,” Fleitman said. “Everyone worked together and battled to the very end.”
Once again, Leatherland led the way offensively with 19 kills, and Gremmel had a team-high of 34 assists. The close loss bumped OBU from a perfect start in GAC play to 2-1 overall. After their two GAC matches, the Lady Bison played a pair of non-conference matches Saturday, September 15 in Denton, TX. OBU began the day with a matchup against Dallas Baptist University and ended the day versus Texas Women’s University.
“Coming into the day, we were expecting DBU and TWU to be good competition,” sophomore Mikayla Watson said. “When looking at their records, we had all beat the same teams and lost to the same teams. With this in mind, we knew we would have to push ourselves to come out on top.”
The Lady Bison came into the first match firing on all cylinders. In the opening set, Fleitman and Watson each had three kills, with Fleit-man hitting an efficient .750 for the frame. This saw the Lady Bison earn an early 1-0 advantage over the Patriots. OBU continued their efficient attacking into the second frame, connecting on 35.1 percent of all their attacks.
Leatherland and sophomore Taylor Williams combined for nine kills and helped lead OBU to a 2-0 lead. The Lady Bison were able to secure a 3-0 sweep of DBU after an impressive third set. Watson posted six kills and Blair dished out 12 assists in the third set alone.
“We really came out firing and limited our errors,” Watson said. “We did a good job of fixing things throughout the game, and we never let up.”
In their second match of the day, the Lady Bison fell short against Texas Women’s University. OBU would steal the second set but would ultimately fall 3-1 in the end.
“We were able to bounce back and steal the second set, but they took the momentum and ran with it in the last sets,” Watson said. “We fought hard throughout the match, which was good to see.”
In the match, Wat-son scored 18 kills and Leatherland had 16 kills. Blair led the way with 25 assists and Gremmel added 18 more assists.
“Something that has stood out to me is our teams fight,” Watson said. “We may have gotten off to a slow start a few times, but we always turn around and fight until the end.