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Oklahoma Baptist wins GAC 2019 volleyball championship title


November 24, 2019

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Oklahoma Baptist captured its first Great American Conference Volleyball Championship crown as the Bison ended Harding’s reign as champions with a three-set victory on Saturday from the Bank OZK Arena.

The Bison (28-5) recovered from a slow start to take the opening set, 25-21. Harding (21-11) scored the first five points of the match and led by as many as seven points. Oklahoma Baptist drew even at 15-15, but did not grab its first lead until a Rachel Ritchie kill gave the Bison a 22-21 advantage. In total, they scored the final six points of the set.

The second set featured eight ties within first 22 points. At 11-11, the Bison scored eight of the next 10 points to seize control of the set. They closed it out on a 6-1 run. Hayley Daniel registered three of her four second-set kills during that run. Oklahoma Baptist produced its best attack percentage of the match in that second stanza. They hit .333 with only four errors.

In the third set, the Bison grabbed a quick 6-2 lead only to see Harding answer by scoring 10 of the next 15 points to grab a 12-11 lead. The lead seesawed back and forth until the 18-18 point of the set. A Taneyah Brown kill put the Bison in front. They scored three more points to extend the advantage to 22-18. Kills by Malia Leatherland and Daniel put the Bison on the brink of the title. After a sustained rally, Daniel’s kill to the back corner secured the championship

Leatherland added Tournament MVP honors to the Player of the Year award she claimed at Wednesday’s awards banquet. She became the third straight GAC Player of the Year to also win the Tournament MVP following Arkansas Tech’s Amanda Milnick and Harding’s Zoe Hardin. She amassed a match-high 17 kills, hit .283 and added 17 digs. For the Championship, she averaged 4.92 kills and 3.83 digs per set. She registered double-doubles in all three wins.

Daniel and Diana Carranza joined Leatherland on the All-Tournament Team. Daniel added 12 kills and 15 digs against the Lady Bisons. She came up one kill shy against Arkansas Tech of also producing three double-doubles. Carranza racked up 29 digs against Harding and 82 for the tournament.

Harding’s Libby Hinton and Sarah Morehead garnered All-Tournament honors. Hinton led the Lady Bisons with nine kills on Saturday while Morehead totaled 27 digs and 14 digs. Morehead averaged 12.25 assists per set in the three contests while Hinton finished with 48 kills and 14 total blocks.

Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Kaydee Honeycutt and Southern Nazarene’s Kylie Smith filled out the seven-player All-Tournament squad.

The Bison will learn their postseason fate on Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. during the selection show on The top eight schools from the GAC, MIAA and Northern Sun advance to the NCAA Division II Central Region Championships.


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