Lady Pilots finish second in Crossroads Tourney

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The Bethel College volleyball team played their way into the championship of the Crossroads League Tournament, but fell just short at the hands of eighth-ranked Indiana Wesleyan. The story began on Tuesday, Nov. 6, when the Lady Pilots played Mount Vernon Nazarene University. The Lady Pilots came into the game having won 16 of their previous 18 matches, but they had not played a match in an entire week. They showed no signs of rust as they dominated the first set 25-13. The Lady Cougars of MVNU came to play in the second set as the teams matched each other point for point. The Lady Pilots used 15 team kills to outlast the Lady Cougars 25-23 in the second set.
The Bethel College volleyball team prepares for their Crossroads League Championship match against Indiana Wesleyan. The Lady Pilots finished second in the tournament.
However, MVNU exacted some revenge in the third set as they played extremely efficient volleyball – they only had one error in the entire set. This led them to a 25-22 win over the Lady Pilots and narrowed their deficit in the match. The Pilots shook off the defeat quickly and squelched any idea of a comeback by the Lady Cougars winning 25-13. The victory sent them onto the second round where they played Goshen College on Thursday, Nov. 8, for a berth in the League Championship. The Lady Pilots had beaten Goshen twice in the regular season, but Goshen was coming off of a huge victory over Taylor in the opening round. The Lady Pilots dominated the first set 25-16 and did not take their foot off the gas pedal. They took set two 25-20 and closed the match out with a 25-14 victory in set three. The Lady Pilots were led by setters Lindsay Marks and Morgan Fox. Both players tallied eight kills while Fox had 20 assists along with Marks’ 18. This gave the Lady Pilots their first championship berth since 2005. Their opponent was nationally-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University and the Wildcats were simply too much. The game was played on Saturday, Nov. 10, at IWU’s home court. This helped propel the Wildcats to a 3-0 victory. Three Bethel players were named to the All-Crossroads League Team with Marks and Aubrey Husak garnering First-Team honors and Fox making the Second-Team. The tournament closed out a stellar season by the Lady Pilots – one which was not expected. They came into the season having finished seventh in the Crossroads League each of the last three seasons. To make matters worse, they lost 2011 NCCAA All-American Emily Henry and had a new head coach in Kevin Ulmer. After a 9-9 record halfway through the season, many might have written the Lady Pilots off. But the team kept fighting, winning 14 of their next 16 matches as well as going 8-1 in Crossroads League play. Despite coming up short in the championship, the Lady Pilots feel the season has been a success. “Our goal this year was to show people that we weren't a 7th place team that lost their best hitter from 2011,” Ulmer said in an interview with “We are a new team, with new goals, high expectations, and no limits! Mission accomplished!" The Pilots will now wait for the announcement of their NCCAA regional match then try to advance to the NCCAA National Tournament. It will take place after Thanksgiving in Kissimmee, Florida.
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