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Bethel tallies first KCAC volleyball tournament victory since 2010 to play in semifinals
After making history, the Threshers are now set for a rematch with Kansas Wesleyan.
HUTCHINSON — When it needed to the most, the Bethel volleyball team prided itself on fast starts.
On Friday afternoon at Hutchinson Sports Arena in the 2023 KCAC postseason volleyball tournament, the third-seeded Threshers jumped out to sizable leads in multiple sets and played sound team volleyball to defeat sixth-seeded Evangel, 3-1, and clinch its first victory in bracket play in 13 years.
Both teams came out energized to start with the two squads — which played a five-set thriller that Bethel won in the regular season — trading blows to a 5-5 tie in the first set.
The Threshers were able to create some breathing room, embarking on a 10-4 run to go up 15-9. Evangel quickly struck back with a 6-1 run of its own to close the gap, never letting the Threshers lead by more than three the rest of the way.
At one point, Bethel trailed 26-25, but was able to bounce back with stellar team defense to clinch a 1-0 advantage, 28-26.
Bethel opened the second set with a 5-1 lead. Evangel called a timeout that proved to be wise and well-timed. The Valor came out on a 6-1 run, taking the lead and battling with the Threshers back and forth until the two were tied at 15.
Evangel then went on a 4-1 run to force a Bethel timeout with a 19-16 lead and would never look back. The Valor slammed the door on the Threshers to take a 25-21 victory in the second set and knot the match up at one game apiece.
The third set repeated the second set’s early stages as Bethel jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead — and this time didn’t let up. One of Kylah Carter’s team-high 12 kills put the Threshers ahead 10-5 to force an Evangel timeout.
After leading by as much as 12, Bethel saw it out the rest of the way to clinch a 2-1 lead, 25-17, and move within one set of advancing.
The Threshers carried that momentum into the fourth set and denied the Valor any hope of a miracle. Bethel led 5-1, then 13-6, then 18-8. Evangel simply had no answer as the Threshers just seemingly couldn’t make a mistake en route to a 25-15 victory that punched their ticket to the semifinals.
For the Valor, Mallory Dick had a game-high 14 kills. Jessica Pritchett had 22 assists. Vivianna Sanchez led her team in blocks with three.
Darla Crow led Bethel in blocks with five and added in nine kills. Jordan Boone had 11 kills, Cam Offerle had eight. Kaitlyn Shima led all players in assists with 27. Mia Roman led all players in digs with 25.
With second-seeded Kansas Wesleyan’s five-set win over seventh-seeded Saint Mary, the Threshers will square off with the Coyotes at 7:30 p.m. for a trip to the championship.
Kansas Wesleyan defeated Bethel, 3-1, on Oct. 18. The winner of the rematch will face either first-seeded Oklahoma Wesleyan or fifth-seeded Ottawa. The Eagles and Braves are set to play at 5 p.m.
Both games will be played at the Sports Arena.