Bekier, Ellison finally return to college volleyball court

        Four former Lake volleyball players were to play collegiately this year, but now only two will actually get on the court because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
        The other two, who were to play at Owens Community College, will see their college careers remain in limbo for now.
        After playing two years at Owens Community College and winning two consecutive NJCAA national championships, 5-foot-10 junior outside hitter Kayla Bekier will begin her junior season this spring playing for NCAA Division II Wheeling University in West Virginia. The Cardinals participate in the Mountain East Conference.
        Kortney Ellison, a 5-10 freshman outside hitter, will begin play this spring for NAIA Lourdes University in Sylvania.
        Lake volleyball coach Amy Vorst was hoping that Taylor Momany and Kayla’s younger sister, Karly Bekier, would get to play at Owens this year, but the local two-year college has canceled its’ volleyball season entirely this school year, says Assistant Athletic Director Judy Loehrke.
        “Yes, (we are) very disappointed that we will not be playing this year,” Owens coach Sonny Lewis emailed The Press. “Taylor is returning to play in the 2021 fall season and Karly is also returning and she still has two years of eligibility.”
        Kayla Bekier got to play two seasons at Owens, where she was an NJCAA Division III All-American and first team All-Ohio Community College Athletic Conference. She ranked eighth nationally in the NJCAA with 409 kills and a .358 attack percentage and was also chosen to the NJCAA D-III All-Tournament Team.
The second national title was a fitting end to another dominant season for the Express on the volleyball court. Owens began the season as the preseason No. 1 ranked team heading into the 2019 campaign. The Express lost 10 of the 14 players from the year's previous national title team, losing their top three attackers, their top setter, and their starting libero from the year before.
That doesn’t mean they did not have a target on their back.
        “As exciting as it was to win last year, this year was more exciting because we were defending champs and we had a huge target on our backs and everyone wanted a piece of us because they wanted to say they beat the defending national champs,” Bekier said.
        “(The second) year was so much fun because of my great teammates who all turned into my very best friends. As good as (the first) year’s team was, I felt this year we were much better because we had so much more depth. Any player was capable of taking over the match on any given day. We had players take on roles they weren’t used to and they executed everything perfectly.” 
Her second season the Express finished 43-4, marking the fifth straight year where the team had won 40 or more games. They finished three wins shy of the all-time mark of 46 victories in a season set by the 2000 and 2002 team. The 43 wins also marked the third most wins in a season since 1994. 
Despite all that success, the team had to overcome adversity as well.
        “We (had) a list of 29 unfortunate events that happened to our team throughout the season,” Bekier told The Press. “I give major props to every single person on this team for overcoming everything we were put through and coming out on top. All of our hard work this season really paid off in the end. Despite everything that has happened to us this year, this was the dream team and I am so grateful to have been able to be a part of it.”
        At Lake, Kayla was a three-time All-Northern Buckeye Conference, all-district, and Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press selection, plus she won the team’s MVP award as a senior and Most Improved Award as a freshman.
        Kayla will now join a Wheeling team that closed out the 2019 season ranked No. 24 in the final release of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II Top-25 poll.  The Cardinals (33-4) reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the ninth consecutive year and posted 30 or more wins for the 12th-consecutive season under coach Christy Benner. Benner is used to recruiting players from this area.
        Last year, Wheeling found success with a trio of AVCA All-Americans, including senior setter Stephanie Sylvester from Oregon (St. Ursula). Sylvester joined Haley Kramer (Monroeville, Ohio) as a three-time All-American with a nod on the third team. She ended the year as the statistical champion with 12.76 assists per set while Kramer ended the season as Division II's statistical champion with a .440 hitting percentage. Kramer and Sylvester are the first individual NCAA Statistical Champions in program history.
Ellison set to begin college career
        Ellison begins her college career at Lourdes after serving as a four-year letter winner for the Flyers. She was a first team All-NBC selection as a senior after earning second team All-NBC honors as a junior. She was an honorable mention All-NBC honoree in 2017, a first team all-district pick in 2019 after earning Second Team All-District accolades as a junior, the team’s Most Valuable Player as a senior and also lettered in basketball.
        The Gray Wolves will open their season on January 23, hosting Saint Xavier before heading to Cornerstone on January 29 to begin WHAC play. Coach Greg Reitz returns 12 players on its roster from the 2019 season in which the Gray Wolves went 14-16 overall and 10-10 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, finishing in seventh place.
Momany had joined Kayla Bekier on Owens second national championship, but now 6-0 sophomore middle/right side hitter is still waiting for her sophomore season. Vorst, an Eastwood graduate who played for an Eagles’ state championship volleyball team, knows the meaning of winning on a big stage and was pleased to see two of her ex-players enjoy that kind of success..
        “We are excited and proud that two Lake alumni were a part of the Owens’ national championship team,” Vorst said. “To have two of our players reach the pinnacle of college athletics is a tremendous feat that our program is incredibly proud of. Kayla and Taylor were great players for us at Lake and helped take our program to the next level.  They worked hard and earned the success they've had at Owens.” (— from collegiate press releases and Press Sports Editor J. Patrick Eaken)


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association