Section: Sports

Volleyball’s season ends at NCAC tournament

The Ladies volleyball season ended on Friday after the team toppled its first-round opponent of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) tournament, the Oberlin College Yeowomen in straight sets. The Ladies subsequently lost to rival Denison University 3-1.

The NCAC tournament adopted a new format this year, giving a greater advantage to teams with regular-season success. Instead of the previous single-elimination format, where the top seed would play the worst seed and so on., this year, the top four seeds earned byes into the second round, while the top two seeds earned byes into the semifinals. This format means the fourth and third seeds were waiting for the winners of the first round, and the first and second seeds were waiting for the winners of the second round. This led to a well-rested fourth-seeded Denison team playing a tired Ladies team coming off a match earlier in the day.

The all-NCAC team was announced during the tournament, and three Ladies were recognized. Outside hitter Delaney Swanson ’19 finished as a second team all-NCAC player, despite missing a good chunk of the season with a knee injury. She finished the season seventh in the NCAC in kills per set, and second on the Ladies in kills. This was her third season in a row finishing all-NCAC, as she finished second team in 2015 and first team last season.

Honorable mentions for all-NCAC were right side/middle hitter Mackenzie Bruzzio ’20 and setter Jensen Shurbert ’18. Bruzzio finished the season first in kills, second in points and third in blocks for the Ladies as she received her first-ever recognition from the conference. Shurbert got her third honorable mention in a row, as her 841-assist season puts her second in the all-time Ladies record book with a career 2,944 assists. She also finishes second in assists per set (minimum 200 career sets) at 8.11.

A possible snub for the Ladies was libretto Rachael Thorson ’18. She finished the regular season fifth in the NCAC in digs with 437, and finished her Kenyon career as second in all-time digs with 1485.

The Ladies had a strong season. The team finished with a winning record for the third straight season after 24 years without going over .500.

The seniors became the first class of volleyball players to have a majority of winning seasons since the class of 1991. “Our senior class has put blood, sweat and tears into this program over the past four years, and it’s so humbling to see our hard work pay off. Coach Our coaches are hold us to a high level of athletic and academic excellence, and it motivates us to be the best players and people we can be,” Thorson said on her class’s success.

Despite losing the solid senior foursome of Ashley Martens, Thorson, Shurbert and Grace Riley, the Ladies volleyball team has a bright future ahead of them. The six Ladies who finished the season with over 100 kills are all returning to the team next year, including two of the aforementioned all-NCAC players.

“Whether they’re a first-year or senior, have started every game or not, every single member on this team makes it what it is, and we all have trust in each other’s abilities … I therefore know the future of our program is bright,” Thorson said.

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