Owens defends national title on Kayla Bekier’s kill

Chris Schmidbauer

The Owens Community College volleyball team began the NJCAA Division III championship match on fire.
The Express took eight of the first ten points scored in the first set, to take a commanding 8-2 lead. The Cougars would pull to within five points at 10-5 before Owens pushed their lead to eight points at 16-8 off a Columbus State attacking error.
Owens would maintain that lead to 18-10 and the Express would go on to score five of the set's next six points, capped off by a kill by 5-8 freshman setter Megan Dunne (Rossford). Three serves later, 5-foot-10 sophomore outside hitter Kayla Bekier, would close out the set with a kill to secure the first set for the Express, winning the opening frame 25-12.
The Cougars were able to flip the scripts in the second set, jumping out to a 7-2 lead. Owens would take a timeout and rebound quickly, scoring the next four points to pull back within 7-6 on a kill by 5-10 freshman setter Arielle Snider (Sidney).
Again, the Express would go on a scoring run, scoring six of the next eight points, taking a 12-9 lead in the second set on a kill by 5-11 freshman middle blocker Semira Neely (Sylvania Southview). Owens would push the lad to four, and the teams would trade points back and forth. The Express would maintain that lead to 21-17.
Two Semira Neely kills would be sandwiched around two ace serves by 5-8 freshman defensive specialist Olivia Materni (Southview) to give the Express the final four points of the set and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match. 
The third set would be a battle once again. The Cougars would jump out to a 3-1 lead in the third set, before Owens would score three straight to take a 4-3 lead. The score would end up being tied at 9-9, but Columbus State would go on to win the next three points to take a 12-9 lead off a attack error by Bekier.
Owens would continue to trail by three when the scored reached 14-11 in favor of the Cougars. The third set would take a dramatic swing, with Owens winning the next five points. Two kills from 5-8 freshman outside hitter Tyriana Settles (Fostoria) and a kill from 5-10 freshman Rebecca Brown (Maumee) would force a Columbus State timeout with Owens leading 15-14.
An attacking error on the next point would give the Express a 16-14 lead. Owens would widen the advantage to four points after a Bekier kill at 20-16, but Columbus State did not go quietly. The Cougars would score the next three points to trim the Express advantage to just one. A service error on Columbus State followed by another Bekier kill put the advantage back to 22-19 in favor of the Express.
The Cougars would get a point back, but after an attack error and Neely kill, it was championship point for the Express. A serve by 5-9 freshman outside hitter McFinsey Finnen (Delta) was returned by Columbus State, but Brown would set up Bekier for the final kill of the 2019 season to give Owens their second straight national championship. 


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