College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats captured the 2019 National Christian College Athletic Association Division I Women’s Volleyball National Championship on Saturday afternoon in Point Lookout.
The event was hosted by College of the Ozarks for the second consecutive year and featured eight teams from across the country competing for the title. On Wednesday, the teams participated in a Christian Service Project, which provided the city of Branson with assistance in raking leaves at area parks and cleaning up flower beds along Highway 76. That evening, they all experienced a slice of Branson, as their opening tournament banquet was hosted by Dolly Parton’s Stampede.
Thursday held the first eight games of pool play, in which the No. 3 seed Lady Bobcats collected a 3-0 win over Southwestern Christian (Okla.) and a 3-1 victory over Providence Christian College (Calif.). The Lady Bobcats played Trinity International University (Ill.) on Friday morning and suffered their first loss (0-3). With three teams in their pool tied at 2-1, the Lady Cats played a one-set match mid-day against Trinity and broke the tie with a 25-22 win to place them in the first of two semi-final matches. The Lady Cats were pitted against the No. 1 seed, Southwestern Assemblies of God, who went 3-0 in pool play, and collected a hard-fought victory, 3-2 (22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 23-25, 15-12). Lady Bobcat senior Rielly Wallace recorded a triple double in the match, including 50 assists, 14 digs, and 10 kills.
On Saturday afternoon, the Lady Bobcats took the court against the No. 4 seed, Judson University (Ill.). The Lady Cats came ready to play and took the first two sets, 25-17 and 25-18, respectively. The third set saw C of O falter a bit, and Judson seized set three, 25-17. The following set, however, found the Lady Cats resolved to win, as they opened the game with a 10-0 run and eventually won the final set, 25-15. Stat leaders for the championship game featured Wallace and Ryley Thixton, both of whom posted double doubles. Wallace dished 31 assists and snagged 14 digs, while Thixton recorded 21 kills (.404 hitting percentage) and 29 digs. Senior Haley Stallings and freshman Delanie Gaston each aced three serves. Senior Maggie Plake led all players with four blocks.
At the close of the tournament, Wallace was named First-Team All-American and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Thixton received All-Tournament Team honors, and sixth-year head coach Stacy Muckenthaler was named 2019 NCCAA DI WVB Coach of the Year.