MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. - Emotions ran high on senior day at the Centennial Center as the Bobcats honored their senior libero Chandler Ewaldsen with flowers and a framed jersey before their match against Flagler on Sunday night. Ewaldsen had over 25 family members and friends attend the match.
“It was really special,” Ewaldsen said. “When we used to play Armstrong, we played in Savannah, which is where I’m from, so we always had a huge crowd, but for everyone to make the trip and like so many people from everywhere just to come and visit was amazing.”
The Bobcats started out with the energy from the ceremony, but quickly had their backs against the wall after dropping their first two sets. Freshman outside hitter Libby Bochniak mentioned that a conversation in the locker room helped the team rebound before set No. 3.
“I think like when we went into the locker room, we talked all about how this is for Chandler and this is all for her effort that she’s put in this program for four years and just leave it all out on the floor for her,” Bochniak said. “And so it was resiliency and like team unity, trying to fight for our libero, our mom of the team.”
The Bobcats came back, winning sets three and four, 26-24 and 25-22, respectively to send the game into the fifth set. They would come to within two points of winning, but ultimately fell to the Saints 14-16. It was deja-vu for the Bobcats, who dropped a match in the same fashion at Flagler earlier this season.
“Honestly, reality set in for them I think, and they just didn’t want it to be over, so they just wanted that one bad because of what happened when we were down there in the same scenario, like we were down 0-2, lost by two in extra points in the fifth, so just didn’t have it,” said head coach Gretchen Krumdieck.
Sara Davis led Flagler’s attack with 19 kills en route to a .425 hitting percentage. The Saints came in with three players in the top 10 in the Peach Belt Conference in kills, and it showed as Karlie Redfern and Taja Valmyr collected 17 and 15 kills, respectively. As a result, Flagler moved to a conference-best 22-3, extending their win streak to 17 games.
“I mean they’re a really good team,” Krumdieck said of Flagler, “They’re very consistent. We had a hard time stopping their outside hitters and so that’ll be a focus when we get them again next week I hope.”
This match marked the end of the regular season for the Bobcats, who went 21-6, the best single-season record in program history. Heading into the PBC Championship, hosted at GC from Nov. 17-19, as the No. 3 seed, Bochniak noted some takeaways from Sunday’s match.
“Start off stronger in the first two,” said Bochniak, who led the team with 16 kills in the match. “We know we can do it and this is our second time playing them and our second time taking them to five, and losing the first two, winning the second two, so it’s really you got to start off stronger in the first two. Just bring that to the next time, and I think we got ‘em.”
Ewaldsen, who tallied 35 digs on the night, mentioned staying more consistent with their play as a point of improvement. Even though they lost the last match of the season, she said she was honored that her teammates pulled together to fight for her.
“It’s a crazy feeling,” Ewaldsen said. “Before the game, [assistant coach] Stephen [Brown] was just talking like what I’ve given to this program and for these girls just to look up to me that much is just crazy. It’s a huge honor and even though we lost, that was an amazing game, so it was awesome.”