The Owens Community College volleyball team met its match Friday night in the NJCAA Division II national semifinals.
The Express played well but couldn’t break through against defending national champion and undefeated Cowley County (Kan.) CC, falling 28-26, 25-27, 25-22, 25-19 at Owens.
“We played really well, but they are the No. 1 team in the country,” Owens coach Sonny Lewis said. “We just made some errors at some important times.”
As a team, Owens recorded 47 kills, 43 assists, and 82 digs. Dakia Sellers led the team in kills with 16, while Alyssa Meis (Genoa graduate) had 15 and Jazmine Thomas added nine. Molly Hilfinger (Anthony Wayne) paced the Express with 41 assists, and Lisa Urbanski (Notre Dame) registered a team-high 25 digs.
Despite the loss, Owens is guaranteed the best finish in program history at the NJCAA Division II level. The previous best was a fifth-place finish in 2003.
The Express has finished third three times, but those were all at the NJCAA Division III tournament.
Owens will take on Parkland College (Ill.) at 4:30 p.m. today in the third-place match. The Express dropped all three sets to Parkland in a 25-23, 25-12, 25-16 contest on Oct. 6.
“Parkland is a very, very good team,” Lewis said. “We lost to them earlier in the year. We’re hoping our girls are disciplined and come out and play hard. It will be a tough match.”
After competing well against the No. 1 team in the country and making the national final four, Lewis hopes this showing will elevate the status of the program in the future.
“We’re a two-year school so hopefully a lot of girls think Owens is a good place to come and play as an alternative to a four-year university," Lewis said. Hopefully good players start looking at this as an option and want to come here."