GAMBIER, Ohio — Facing their most formidable opponent of the season, the Kenyon College Owls played a hard-fought match against the No. 11-ranked Otterbein Cardinals (12-2) but could not quite scratch out a victory. The Owls dropped the contest three sets to none, moving their record to 1-9 on the season.
The Owls found themselves in a 10-3 hole in the first set, but they began to trade points with the Cardinals to keep the lead from stretching too far out. However, Otterbein continued to play a very clean and aggressive set, pushing things to 21-12. The Owls recollected themselves, scoring three straight points after a timeout, but the Cardinals closed out the first set 25-15, never really having their lead threatened. With 20 kills to only four attack errors, compared to five and four for Kenyon, Otterbein stayed on the offensive throughout the set while minimizing their mistakes.
The Cardinals got off to another strong start in the second set, opening with a 9-3 spurt and never looking back. Otterbein cruised forward the rest of the way, playing with tremendous consistency to run the score up to 25-14, going up two sets to none. The Owls put up a better fight than they did in the first set despite the similar score, with only six fewer attack attempts than the Cardinals. However, Otterbein had 15 kills to Kenyon’s six and four blocks to keep the Owls at bay. A place where the Cardinals stood out during the set was on their serves, recording five aces.
After a tough first two sets, Kenyon was still unwilling to go down without a fight. Paige Milhon had three straight kills, using drop shots to perfection, as the Owls took an early 5-1 lead. The Cardinals began to punch back, but the Owls looked as good as they had all match. A kill by Macy Reimbold, Kenyon’s leading scorer for the match, put Kenyon up by a commanding score of 15-8.
Otterbein, however, refused to go away. After calling a timeout, the Cardinals scored six unanswered points to bring the score to 15-14 before the Owls called a timeout of their own. The Cardinals scored the first point after the timeout to tie the game, but the Owls stopped the bleeding on another Reimbold kill set up by Jac Cousineau to go up 16-15 and stop the 7-0 Cardinal run. Otterbein struck back again, however, going on a quick 5-0 run to regain the lead, 20-16. Kenyon got within one point to make it 21-20, but they never retook the lead.
The Cardinals secured the set 25-22 and the match three sets to none, closing things off with one of the best rallies of the entire match. Both teams had 30 attack attempts in the set, but Otterbein had fewer errors (four to Kenyon’s seven) and more kills (13 to 11) to take the narrow advantage.
Reimbold led the Owls with 27 total attacks, twelve more than the next highest on the team. The senior notched a team-high seven kills, though she also committed nine attack errors to hit -.074. Milhon led the team in hitting percentage with an impeccable .571 mark, thanks to five kills and just one error in the match. Lindsey Abramson and Lauren Blakemore tied for the team lead with five digs apiece. Abramson also recorded two blocks and five kills.
The Owls will continue their season on Saturday, Sept. 24, in Granville, Ohio, as part of the Kenyon / Denison Tournament. Kenyon is slated to play two matches, one against Case Western Reserve University and the other versus the University of Mount Union, a pair of 9-3 teams. The games are scheduled to start at 2 and 4 p.m., respectively.