The Fighting Scots volleyball team put on a performance for the ages throughout the NCAC tournament, demolishing Oberlin and Hiram in straight sets on Friday, Nov. 5 to advance to the conference semi-final. After dominating Oberlin in the first round, the Scots were on a collision course with Hiram in the second round.
Wooster’s evening match-up proved to be a walk in the park, as the Hiram Terriers showed little bite. The Fighting Scots let Hiram keep the first set close before a combination of Hiram errors and kills from Seven Townsel ’22 and Hayley Nash ’22 allowed Wooster to come back from a 21-17 deficit. Three kills by Katie Billetdeaux ’22 and another from Nash wrapped up the first set, allowing Wooster to bring out the brooms and record their second sweep of the day. Nash managed 16 kills in the match, which put her over the 400 kill mark for the season. Wooster’s back-to-back set wins of 25-12 earned the Scots a spot in the semi-finals.
Wooster’s stars shined throughout Friday’s games, as Nash led the Scots in kills in the Oberlin and Hiram victories. Nash’s performance was the exclamation mark at the end of a season during which she had already earned first-team All-NCAC honors for the second time in her career, as she first claimed the honor during her first-year. It is worth noting that there were no All-NCAC teams named for the 2020 season, as a pandemic served as the only defender capable of meeting Nash’s ferocity at the net. However, as with all team sports, no star can shine individually. Wooster’s second first-team All-NCAC member Syd Case ’22 recorded her 1,000th assist of the season during the Oberlin match to achieve a mark that has not been reached since 2012. The third Fighting Scot to receive All-NCAC honors, second-teamer Billetdeaux, recorded her 300th kill of the season against Oberlin, to put this year’s hitters in historic company. Nash and Billetdeaux were the first teammates in just under a decade to record 300+ kills each.
In the semi-final match, the Scots faced a monumental challenge, as the Denison Big Red volleyball team has been nothing short of a powerhouse, finishing the regular season with a 19-7 record and only losing four sets in their regular season sweep of all eight NCAC teams. Denison earned a first-round bye and looked keen on making a deep run as they held not only the no. 1 seed, NCAC Player of the Year, NCAC Newcomer of the Year, Coach of the Year, two members of the All-NCAC first team and two All-NCAC second-teamers.
Wooster came into the game flying high as their prowess on the Livingston Gymnasium floor continued. The Fighting Scots jumped out to a 6-0 lead in set one as the Big Red struggled to find a rhythm in their first game of the weekend. Denison went on a 9-3 run after their early deficit to tie the game at 9-9; however, no team managed to take a lead of more than three points before a Billetdeaux kill gave Wooster the chance to grab a crucial set one. Denison’s Newcomer of the Year, Daria Rodriguez ’25, committed an error that ended set one with an astonishing score of 28-26. Wooster won the following set 25-19 as Billetdeaux recorded yet another decisive point, and it seemed as though the Scots were on the way to another sweep, but eventually the Big Red reminded everyone why it tore through the NCAC during the regular season. Denison took control of set three after the teams were locked at 19-19 as four kills and two errors won them six points and the set, 25-19. The fourth set would see Wooster knock Denison off their pedestal as kills from Townsel and Nash awarded Wooster the third set and the victory over the mighty Big Red. Billetdeaux and Nash led the way with 22 and 20 kills, respectively. Case accumulated a staggering 57 serves on the Scots’ 78 points and Sydney Fitzcharles ’23 added 28 digs to put the Scots in the NCAC Championship. Heights of this altitude had not been reached by Wooster since the storied days of the 1980s.
Wooster’s championship matchup with Wittenberg would see them step up on the court with yet another dominant force in the NCAC. Wittenberg was the only team to challenge Denison as they recorded seven wins against the NCAC losing only two sets, though they fell to Dension during the regular season 3-2. The Fighting Scots proved to be outmatched by the Tigers of Wittenberg as they were defeated in straight sets (25-19, 25-20 and 25-10). Not for lack of effort, the Scots appeared to run out of magic as Wittenberg ran away with the third set and the NCAC Championship.
The match was not without noteworthy moments as Case reached 1,144 assists on the year, only 11 short of the single-season record, however her 10.79 per-set average set the top single-season mark. Case had the following to say about the weekend: “experiencing the NCAC tournament felt special not only because of the wins but also because of my teammates. We all played hard for each other, and I couldn’t ask for a better crew to top the no. 1 seed and make it to the finals with. Although I am sad to be graduating in the spring, this team still has so much to show, and I am excited to watch them next fall as a Wooster alum!”
Nash took hold of third place on the scoring-era season kills list with 432. While her partner in crime, Billetdeaux, claimed second-place on the scoring-era single-season hitting percentage list finishing at .340. Billetdeaux shared her thoughts on the season. “Coming into the conference tournament as the no.5 seed, we knew we would have to work our way to the top. That meant playing in all four matches in the span of only two days. We really wanted revenge against Hiram since they beat us in five sets on senior night, so that was an additional motivator, in addition to moving on in the tournament. The Denison match is one that I will never forget. Even though the first set was extremely close and went into extra points at 28-26, I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that we would lose. Our team was playing with such intensity and confidence. We were playing the best volleyball we have all season, and I came off the court after that first set so thankful to be a part of this team. Taking down the no. 1 seed who had no conference losses—and doing so in their home gym—was amazing! Overall, I could not have asked for a better senior season or teammates to share it with.”
Fitzcharles tied All-American KateLynn Riley’s record for season aces in this scoring-era with 50. Reflecting on the semi-final victory Fitzcharles said, “the win over Denison was one that I will carry with me for the rest of my volleyball career and life. It was a true representation of what kind of team we are: one that plays for each other.” Townsel and Fitzcharles were named to the All-Tournament team.
Congratulations to the volleyball team for its historic performance this season. To the seniors, thank you for your time and effort. Roll Scots!