By Chris Chaney
The first month of the 2013 season could not have gone better for the UC Clermont Lady Cougars volleyball team as head coach Joe Harping’s squad posted a perfect 4-0 record.
The Lady Cougars had a difficult start to the season, kicking off their 2013 campaign against strong competition in Ohio Christian University and West Virginia Tech on back-to-back nights.
The opener, held at home against OCU on Friday, Aug. 23, pitted the Lady Cougars against an opponent who finished the 2012 season ranked No. 9 in National Christian College Athletic Association and qualified for their national championship tournament.
The Trailblazers dropped Clermont 25-20 in the first set before the Lady Cougars took the next two 27-25 and 25-15. Determined to get their season off to a good start as well, OCU took the fourth set 25-14 to force a decisive fifth set.
Despite falling behind early in the last game, Clermont rallied back to win 15-12.
No rest for the weary, the Lady Cougars made the four-hour drive east to Montgomery, W.Va. to face the dual United States Collegiate Athletic Association and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics member West Virginia Tech Golden Bears.
The Lady Cougars swept the Golden Bears 25-20, 25-17, 25-16 to make the road trip a success. Clermont made their hay at the net, hitting .492 as a team and playing impressive defense. Strong service games ended with nine aces for the Lady Cougars.
Sophomore middle hitter Heather Rowland was exceptional in the opening weekend and was honored by the USCAA by being named the Player of the Week.
The Norwood alumnae had seven service aces and 11 digs in the season opener. Rowland has played well all around thus far, ranking in the top-five in hitting percentage and service aces.
Back on the road for another pair of matches, the Lady Cougars began their league schedule with a match against Ohio Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Southern State.
Behind another strong defensive performance that showcased 48 digs, the Lady Cougars won their second consecutive match in straight set fashion, 25-9, 25-9, 25-10.
On the last day of the month, Clermont continued their impressive run of form by taking yet another three set to none win over Miami-Hamilton. Another strong hitting performance saw the Lady Cougars hit at a .400 clip as a team with five different Cougars reaching an individual hitting percentage above .400.
The final touches of the 4-0 start saw the Cougars beat the Harriers 25-21, 25-10, 25-16.
Now into their second month of the year, the Lady Cougars hit the pavement once again to face Clark State Community College on Wednesday, a contender for the OCAC title before finally hosting a home match against West Virginia Tech on Sept. 6.