It may have been senior day, but everyone came to play for the Lady Mustangs this afternoon in their final home match of the season against Azusa Pacific. With five seniors looking at their last game in Bross Gymnasium, the Mustangs came out with all the energy and passion one would expect on a Senior Day, making for an unforgettable game in which the Mustangs just missed upsetting the number 8 team in the NAIA.
TMC exploded out of the gates in game one, getting solid rhythm offensively from their middles- particularly Jillian Anderson who had three kills in what became a 10-4 run. Defensively Jenna Kapuscinski was active making hustle plays to keep her team in scoring position. The Cougars were forced to take an early timeout to try to stymie the Mustang run. The break did little to temper the Mustangs who continued to score in a variety of ways-including a great block by Calihan and Dougherty. With another quick by Callihan for the 23rd point, followed by an APU hitting error, the Mustangs were ready to close out game one. They did so one play later as they went outside to Dougherty again and the outside hitter put the ball off the APU blockers and out of bounds for the game winner at 25-21.
In game two APU had a small lead on TMC to start things, but the Mustangs stayed highly competitive, hanging with the Cougars. A block by Callihan and Kapuscinski followed by a a service ace by Dougherty brought the score to 6-7 Cougars. An outside hit by Oskam went down several plays later for a 9-9 tie. Both teams continued to work, but APU was able to get timely hits from outside hitter Whittany Radcliffe to again pull away by several points. After an APU service errorat 14-18, momentum went back to the Mustangs. The next two plays the Mustangs got two needed blocks- one on APU's outside hitter, followed up by another on the right side by Callihan and Kapuscinski, to bring the game to 17-19, Cougars. Fantastic defense kept the Mustangs going and it was another block that got them to 23-24 APU. The Cougars were then called in the net,tying things up at 24 apiece. Unfortunately on the next play APU used a block of their own to go up one, and followed it up with a kill in the middle on a Mustang passing error. APU evened the match at 1-1 with the 26-24 win.
The Mustangs were a little shaky at the start of game three and the Cougars raced out to a 5-0 lead. Coach Blanken called a timeout and set his team straight. The team went out and automatically got a kill from Callihan to get things going. After getting themselves on the board the Mustangs began to make some plays. Soon they had the Cougars lead shaved to 1 at 10-11. The Mustangs then tied things up on a Kapuscinski kill from the outside. A play later they took the lead on a block assist by Caitlyn Ramirez and Callihan, and Callihan's solo block in the middle a play later gave the Mustangs the lead. TMC continued to plug away, largely led by Callihan who seemed to be a part of every play. Anderson came in and took over where Callihan left off, getting a big block in the middle. With the Mustangs in control at 20-17, the Cougars called timeout to talk things over. Anderson had a service ace to put the Mustangs up 23-18, then Callihan re-entered the game and put one down the middle for game point. She then closed things out, joined on a block assist by Sarah Oskam for the 25-19 win.
Game four started with an APU kill but the Mustangs took over from there. With precise passing and aggressive play at the net they soon had an 8-4 lead. The Mustangs reached 12-7 on another Callihan kill and raised the lead 2 points more on Kapuscinski service aces. Several plays later Daugherty had a service ace to put the Mustangs ahead 19-11. APU went on a small run to close things to 21-17, but another Callihan kill earned the Mustangs the sideout. Needing just two points to win the match the Mustangs began to tighten up. APU continued to work the Mustang lead down, eventually taking a one point lead at 24-23. A Callihan kill tied things up and a block by Anderson gave them game point. APU responded, winning the ball back on another Radcliffe kill. Sarah Oskam won the ball back for the Mustangs on a kill to the outside. Just as it looked like the Mustangs would end the match in four games, there was a disappointing turn of events as Samantha Dougherty was injured after landing on another player's foot and had to leave the game with a sprained ankle. APU seized the moment, pulled things together, got two points off of a kill and a Mustang hitting error, and took game four 28-26.
The back and forth nature of the match continued in game five. The Mustangs had a slight edge at 6-5 and continued to score off of kills down the middle. As the teams battled, the Mustangs continued to scrap, doing whatever they could to make plays, with a display of hustle that had fans on their feet and Coach Blanken applauding his team. The game continued to go back and forth and once again required extra points to determine a winner. Kills by Oskam and Callihan gave the Mustangs an 11-10 lead and a mix of errors by both teams soon saw things tied up again at 15-15. Despite all the hustle and heart displayed by the home team, it was the Cougars who closed things out at 17-15 on a hitting error by the Mustangs followed by a big kill by Christy Kain.
Radcliffe was a force for APU with 25 kills. TMC was led by Victoria Callihan who finished with an impressive 17 kills and and 12 blocks. Daugherty had 9 kills, 13 digs and 5 blocks before her exit. Senior Leslie Windham also made a huge impact on the game with her 25 digs.