NORTH NEWTON, Kan. - The Bethel volleyball program showed tonight that they won't be a doormat for their conference foes this season to directly look past. Despite taking a loss in four sets to Friends University, the Lady Threshers have set the bar for what fans can expect from them in 2017: a never ending intensity. This intensity, fueled by the resurgance of 2014 KCAC Freshman of the Year Katie Neira (SR/San Antonio, Texas) and her thundering kills, showed against the Falcons as Bethel stuck around with one of the recent top teams in the KCAC, and took the loss 25-23, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20.
Things started out tight immediately in this matchup. Neither squad could create more than a two-point cushion until the Falcons mini-run to 15-10 in Set 1. A kill a piece by Kelsie Anderson (SO/Lindsborg, Kan.) and Abby Kurtzer (SR/Haxtun, Colo.), an ace by Avery Myatt (SO/Windsor, Colo.), and then three straight kills by Katie Neira knotted it up at 20-20. From there Friends did just enough to create that two-point gap again, and rode that to a final 25-23 score for Set 1.
"We continue to improve each game and are starting to play with controlled passion," remarked Coach Stacy Middleton. "We were not intimidated tonight and fought hard for each point. It's encouraging to see what we're working on in practice show up in matches!"
Set 2 featured nine different points of being tied among the two teams, and stayed close until Friends opened it up a bit to clinch a 25-17 victory in the set. The Lady Threshres regrouped, and came out ready for Set 3.
Bethel pushed the Falcons to their breaking point early, as the Friends coaching staff grew visibly frustrated early from poor decisions and the pressure Bethel was applying. Bethel was able to create a 18-13 cushion thanks to kills by Neira, Kurtzer, and Rachel Bustillos (JR/Rosemead, Calif.). The frustrations only grew from there as Friends fell to a 23-15 defecit, before the Lady Threshers let off the gas a bit and only won the set 25-21.
With Anderson checking out of the game, the setting duties in the late Set 3 and entirety of Set 4 fell on Leisle Hoffman (JR/Wichita, Kan.), Kaylee VanderVeen (FR/Arvada, Colo.), and Myatt. While the trio performed admirably during this time, Bethel wasn't able to push the envelope like they did in Set 3, and couldn't overtake the Falcons lead. Bethel fell in Set 4 25-20.
Neira finished with double-digit kills for the sixth time out of seven games this season, as she led Bethel tonight with 16. Tonight's game helped her eclipse 800 on her career, and if she keeps this playstyle up the 1,000 milestone may be in her future. Kurtzer finished with seven kills. Anderson led Bethel with 17 assists, with Myatt finishing with 11. Myatt did have a team-high 17 digs, with Taylor Buessing (JR/Topeka, Kan.) right behind her at 16.
Bethel (now 2-5) will take a week-long break, before they head down south to take on Oklahoma Wesleyan on September 13th, at 6:00 PM.