OU women's teams put together championship seasons

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The Ottawa University women’s sports teams are having success at a historic rate.

Four Lady Braves teams this season captured KCAC titles and have a chance to make big waves on the national scene.

The OU women’s softball, tennis, volleyball and flag football won KCAC titles in the 2020-21 seasons.

Ottawa University senior hitter Randi Johnson fires the ball past the William Woods blockers during the NAIA Tournament opening round match.

It was the first title in program history for the women’s tennis team. The flag football team is 10-1 in its inaugural season and playing this week in the national tournament.

The volleyball team went 31-9 and advanced to the NAIA National Site for the fourth straight season. The softball team is 37-5 heading into this week’s conference tourney.

“As a whole the university is having a lot of success,” OU softball coach Jay Kahnt said. “This year in particular of what the women’s programs have done.”

Kahnt, who has been a student, athlete and coach at OU for more than 25 years, said there are reasons behind the success.

“You have to give credit to our administration,” he said. “They put us in an opportunity to be successful. They are allowing us to go out and be successful. Not every conference school don’t feel like they have that kind of support we have.”

Those four programs dominated their sport en route to the titles. The tennis team went 8-0 in conference duals. The softball team was 22-2 in conference play and won the title by three games. The volleyball team also won conference by a big margin and followed up by taking the conference tourney title for the ninth time in program history. Flag football has yet to lose a game to a KCAC school.

“Flag is just destroying teams,” Kahnt said. “Three games is a big margin in our sport.”

Success breeds success, Kahnt said.

“We can be successful at Ottawa,” he said. “The other programs are having success. They may not have won conference titles. The success of the other programs help build our program. Look at what football has done in the past.”

Football is the third-winningest program in NAIA history.

A big part of this season’s success derives from recruiting. All the championship teams reloaded or rebuilt their teams with new players this season.

“Everybody dealt with the pandemic differently,” Kahnt said. “We had a lot of Zoom meetings with recruits. We were sitting by our computer watching summer [games], because we were not allowed to get out to watch. Some took advantage of what we had. It definitely paid off.”