One and done: Beaver volleyball bows out of NCAA tournament with first round loss

Redshirt freshman Outside Hitter Haylie Bennett elevates for a spike against The University of Oregon. Bennett has recorded 245 kills this season, trailing only Mary-Kate Marshall (506) and Maddie Goings (313).

The Baro Staff

Beaver volleyball’s hot season came to an end Friday as they lost to North Carolina State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Oregon State took the match to five sets, but ultimately came up short in the fifth. Set scores were 18-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21 and 13-15.

“I’m proud of what the team accomplished this year,” head coach Mark Barnard said. “We have had a fantastic 12 months. Twelve months ago, we were sitting at home watching this tournament. That’s a big difference.”

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Barnard was named the Pac-12 coach of the year last week leading into the matchup. In his second year in charge of the Beaver squad, the team finished the regular season with a record of 21-11, a nine-match improvement from his first year record.

“It’s always hard to lose, but today we were beaten by a better team. (NC State) deserved to win. There’s no doubt. They played the way we wanted to play. They didn’t allow us to play that way. We tried as hard as we possibly could. Unfortunately, we just didn’t match up to them physically. ”

NC State started the first set with a 13-6 lead, and despite OSU closing the gap to 14-10, the Beavers lost 25-18.

Kayla Ellis helped propel the Beavers to a 9-6 lead in the second set, but after NC State brought the gap to 22-19, OSU called a timeout. The Beavers came out of the break to finish off the set 25-19 with kills from Marshall and Haylie Bennett, who recorded five kills in the period.

In the third set, OSU and the Wolfpack went back and forth, with the set tied at 15-15 at one point. The runs continued with NC State scoring a pair and then another 4-0 run. The Beavers answered with three in a row and closed the Wolfpack lead to 22-21, but an NC State timeout effectively settled their squad to take the final three points and take the third set, 25-21.

The Beavers came out strong in the fourth set with their season on the line. OSU led throughout the set but never by more than three points until a kill from Shekinah Clarke gave the Beavers a four-point lead at 15-11. Still leading 18-14, the Wolfpack inched back to tie the score at 20-20 and again at 21-21. However, the Beavers posted three blocks in the last four points with by Serena Bruin and Maddie Goings and then back-to-back blocks by Kory Cheshire and Bennett secure the fourth set for the Beavers 25-21.

In the fifth set, Cheshire and Marshall each served up an ace and Bennett and Bruin added a block to give the Beavers the 8-5 advantage when the teams switched sides of the court. A series of sideouts left OSU ahead 10-7 until the Wolfpack came with another run scoring four in a row to take the lead at 11-10. A kill by Marshall evened things up at 11-11, but again NC State tacked on two to gain the 13-11, which the Beavers were unable to overcome dropping the set 15-13.

This was OSU’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2014, and Mark Barnard’s first as the head coach of the Beavers. This also marks the final collegiate match for senior Mary-Kate Marshall, who posted a team-high 19 kills to go with a pair of aces, eight digs and three blocks. It also marks the end of OSU careers for McKenna Hollingsworth and Lanesha Reagan, each of whom suffered season-ending injuries earlier this season.