OU women's volleyball sports experience advantage

By The Herald Staff

The Ottawa University women’s volleyball team has a distinct experience advantage in Saturday’s opening round of the NAIA National Tournament.

Ottawa is playing in its eighth national tournament and has four national tourney site appearances. Ottawa played at the national site in the past three seasons.

Ottawa’s opponent — William Woods — is making its first national tourney appearance. Ottawa tangles with William Woods 1 p.m. Saturday in Wilson Field House with the winner advancing to the final site in Sioux City, Iowa.

Ottawa has played in 19 national tournament matches in program history. Ottawa has a 4-15 mark in nationals. All four of those wins came in the opening round.

Both teams come into the match playing well. Ottawa (30-7) has won seven straight matches. Ottawa won the KCAC Tournament this past weekend, nipping Saint Mary 3-2 in the championship match.

William Woods, the undefeated AMC regular-season champs, saw its eight-match winning streak snapped with a 3-1 loss to Columbia in the AMC tourney semifinals.

Ottawa enters the national tournament with its best NAIA ranking (No. 19) in school history. Ottawa is 1-2 against ranked opponents this season.

Ottawa and William Woods have met four times previously with the series tied at 2-2. Ottawa has won the past two meetings, the most recent came early in the 2019 season at Wilson Field House.

Ottawa is a team with a high-octane offense and stingy defense. Through 37 matches, the Braves have 1,624 kills, a .227 attacking percentage, 1,479 assists, 201 service aces, 2,274 digs, and 532 blocks.

Three-time All-KCAC first team performer Ayana Tharps leads Ottawa with 3.3 kills  and 1 block per set. Zari Montgomery leads Ottawa in assists per set (5.8). Emily Jackson tops the team in digs per set (4.2).

Through 15 matches, the Owls have 700 kills, a .208 attacking percentage, 640 assists, 93 service aces, 953 digs, and 164 blocks.