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Beavers best Owls in tightly contested battle

BLUFFTON, Ohio — A narrow margin of eight points separated the Kenyon College and Bluffton University volleyball teams on Wednesday night, but the hosting Beavers bested the Owls 3-1 in the tightly contested four-set match.

For Kenyon (2-3), it is the team’s first match day without securing a victory after splitting doubleheaders on consecutive days to open the season. Bluffton (2-3) claimed its second straight victory after opening the season 0-3.

The Owls and Beavers went blow for blow as three of the four sets were decided by two points, including two above the 25-point threshold. Bluffton prevailed 28-26 in the first set, but Kenyon forced an extended scoreboard with an 8-3 run, coming back from down 21-16 to tie the set at 24-24. Still, Bluffton’s .219-0.34 edge in hitting percentage helped the home team take an early lead.

Kenyon bounced back in set two with a 25-23 win after shoring up its attack and hitting an efficient .243 while holding the Beavers to a .154. 

The Kenyon defense forced Bluffton’s attack percentage to drop in every set, but the Beavers went ahead 2-1 after a 25-19 win in set three, in which they held the Owls to a .000 hitting percentage.

Set four was all Kenyon early as the Owls built a 6-1 lead and led 9-4, but five consecutive errors led to a 7-0 run that put the Beavers back on top. Kenyon stayed the course and was one point away from forcing a fifth set with a 24-22 lead, but the home team rattled off three straight points and clinched the match with a 27-25 victory.

Sophomore Becca Gwynne paced the Owls with 13 points after setting season-highs with nine kills and four blocks, hitting .217. Senior Lindsey Abramson finished with eight kills on 20 attempts with just one error, good for an efficient .350 mark.

First-year Hannah Schwemm nabbed her first double-double, leading the Owls with 12 digs and dishing out 10 assists. Maggie Wolf led Kenyon with 15 assists, while fellow sophomore Lauren Blakemore amassed 10 digs. First-year Bryn Carrigan helped Kenyon finish with an 11-9 advantage in aces after dealing out a match-leading five.

The Owls have another busy weekend on deck with three matches in two days as part of the NCAC / MIAA Crossover. Kenyon is scheduled to play Saint Mary’s College (IN) (2-2) at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, September 8, before facing the University of Olivet (4-1) at 6:30 p.m.

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