No. 11 Cougars rally past No. 5 Kirkwood, drop match to No. 3 Illinois Central at tournament

No. 11 Cougars rally past No. 5 Kirkwood, drop match to No. 3 Illinois Central at tournament

COLUMBUS, Ohio –The Columbus State Cougars (25-1, 11-0 OCCAC) defeated Southwestern,  Kirkwood, and East Central only to come up short against nationally ranked Illinois Central at the ICC Tournament this past weekend.

In the match v. Southwestern, the Cougars dominated on offense with an overall .449 attack percentage, while on defense they held the Blue Storm to a 0.34 hitting percentage. The Cougars tallied 45 kills, led by sophomore Jenni Payne (Lexington/Mansfield HS) who registered 15, along with nine digs and two blocks. In her first of four double doubles in the tournament, sophomore Stephanie Ruffing (Powell/Olentangy Liberty HS) added 13 kills and 12 digs to secure the Cougars 3-0 sweep. Set scores were 25-15, 25-10, 25-4.

Against nationally ranked Kirkwood, Columbus State battled for the five set victory directed by Ruffing and Payne's offense, who recorded 37 kills and 20 digs and, 20 kills and 17 digs respectively. Freshman Ellie Cain (Covington/Lehman Catholic HS) accumulated 70 assists, two digs, and two blocks as freshman Rachel Noffsinger (Anna/Anna HS) tallied ten kills and a trio of service aces, digs, and blocks. The Cougars prevailed to defeat the Eagles 3-2 with scores of 18-25, 25-18, 26-24, 22-25, 15-9.

The next day, Columbus State fell short as third ranked Illinois Central outlasted the Cougars in four sets 21-25, 25-21, 19-25, 18-25. Payne and Ruffing displayed stamina, with a combined 28 kills and 34 digs. Cain aided with 45 assists, four digs, two blocks, and a service ace. Paige Brady (Nevada/Wynford HS) rounded out the effort with 20 digs.

In the last match of the tournament v. East Central, the Cougars defeated the Falcons in four sets 25-10, 25-15, 22-25, 25-9. Jenni Payne tore it up with 21 kills, seven digs, five blocks, a service ace, and an assist. Freshman Kelsey Rammel (Coldwater/Coldwater HS) dug a team high 27 balls, followed by 11 from sophomores Korie Johnson (Dublin/Dublin Jerome HS) and Stephanie Ruffing, who also buried 19 kills.

The Cougars are back on the court Wednesday in Cincinnati, taking on the Surge at 6:00 p.m. On Friday, Columbus State will host their last home match of the year, against the Lorain County Commodores. First serve set for 6:00 p.m.