Bethel spikers faces conference powers

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Bethel sophomore J'Lynne Stolsworth digs a ball during play Wednesday against Kansas Wesleyan. Bethel finished the day 0-2.
Bethel sophomore Katie Wilhelm plays the ball during a dual meet Wednesday against Kansas Wesleyan.
Bethel junior Dannika Day spikes the ball during a match against Kansas Wesleyan.
Bethel senior Jessica Schumann sets a ball during play Wednesday against Kansas Wesleyan.
Bethel senior Jade Gleason plays the ball during a dual meet Wednesday.

A young and struggling Bethel College volleyball squad had to face two of the top teams in the KCAC, falling to Kansas Wesleyan and Ottawa Wednesday at Thresher Gym.

Bethel fell to Kansas Wesleyan 25-19, 25-14, 25-19; and Ottawa 25-17, 25-12, 25-17.

“We have these great, shining moments, and it’s a matter of sustaining that,” Bethel coach Stacy Middleton said. “We just got (Kaitlyn) Shima back from isolation. She’s had two hours of practice. She  played well all the way around. She was a rock star. We have these brief moments. We just need to be consistent. (Playing the conference leaders) makes it a little rough, but it’s been a super-long season, but we’re still here and we’re still working hard.”

Normally, the team would be in spring practices this time of the year, playing exhibition tournaments.

“We practice two days a week, three days a week,” Middleton said. “We break it down and do a whole lot of skill work. We play a couple tournaments with no refs that don’t mean anything except to get some playing time. That’s what spring should be, just honing in those skills. Now we’re just having to fight through, practice all the time and they’re tired, their bodies are tired. We’ve been at it since August.”

Tied 6-6 in the first set against KWU, Bethel gave up a 6-0 run. The Threshers pulled within two, 18-16, but gave up a 7-3 run.

Bethel trailed the second set 6-1 and never caught up.

Tied 14-14 in the third set, Bethel gave up a 6-1 run, scoring just four points the rest of the way.

Maddy Beckett had 20 kills and served three aces for Kansas Wesleyan, 16-10 overall and 12-6 in the KCAC. Cortney Hanna set 21 assists, followed by Josie Deckinger with 18. Emily Monson had 20 digs. Elizabeth Hardacre and Morgan Bryand each downed two blocks.

Mia Loganbill and Jade Gleason each had five kills for Bethel, Kaitlyn Shima set 13 assists, Katey Wilhelm and Dannika Day each served two aces. Wilhelm had 15 digs. Julie Wilhite downed four blocks, followed by Day with three.

Bethel fell behind Ottawa 15-10 in the first set, and never got back in the game. Bethel trailed 11-5 in the second set.

Katelyn Elstun led Ottawa (19-5, 15-2 KCAC) with 13 kills. Zari Montgomery set 18 assists, followed by Kaitlyn Haller with 13. Alsion Thornton served three aces. Ava Taton had 12 digs, while Emily Jackson had 11 digs. Randi Johnson downed six blocks.

Gleason had five kills for Bethel. A Mott, Loganbill and Kaitlyn Shima each had four kills. Shima set 10 assists. Wilhelm had 14 digs, followed by J’Lynn Stolsworth with 10. Harlie Hunton downed three blocks.

Bethel is 2-22, 2-18 in KCAC play, and plays at 1 p.m. Saturday at Avila with Tabor. Tabor is 22-6, 15-3 in the KCAC. Avila is 12-14, 8-9 in the conference. Bethel fell to Avila in five sets earlier this season.

“Tabor is up there second or third right now,” Middleton said. “We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com