Owens, Lake grads honored by Gavarone, Gardner

State Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and the Chancellor of Ohio Department of Higher Education, Randy Gardner honored Owens Community College girls volleyball team for winning back-to-back national titles.
The team earned the 2019 national championship in a three-game victory over Columbus State in November. Playing major roles for the Express are two Lake grads, 5-foot-10 sophomore outside hitter Kayla Bekier and 6-0 freshman Taylor Momany.
"It's my honor to host the 2018 and 2019 National Champions from Owens Community College and Coach Lewis at the Statehouse today," said Gavarone. "These young women are champions on and off the court, and they've made our whole community, their school, and our state very proud."
The team finished their season with a record of 43-4, marking the fifth straight year where they won 40 or more games.
It took Owens volleyball head coach Sonny Lewis 18 seasons to win his first national championship. It took just 371 days to win his second. The Express swept their way to the program's second consecutive national championship, defeating conference rival Columbus State for the fifth time this season.
The national title was a fitting end to another dominant season for the Express on the volleyball court. Owens began the season as the preseason No. 1 ranked team heading into the 2019 campaign. The Express lost 10 of the 14 players from the year's previous national title team, losing their top three attackers, their top setter, and their starting libero from the year before. Despite the lack of experience, Owens found a way to win their first seven matches in a row to begin the season. After a loss to Glen Oaks on August 30, the Express would reel off 16 straight victories. 
The Express never lost consecutive matches more than once all season, and the team hadn't lost a set since their Region XII championship match against Columbus State back on October 26. Owens also kept their regular season OCCAC winning streak alive, having now won 76 consecutive regular season matches. The Express captured their fifth straight OCCAC title this season as well. 
The Express won the Region XII tournament and the Mid-Atlantic District Tournament, beating the Cougars both times. 
They finish three wins shy of the all-time mark of 46 victories in a season set by the 2000 and 2002 teams. The 43 wins also marks the second most wins in a season since 1994. 
Owens had two players named to the Division III NJCAA All Tournament Team. Bekier, who had 33 total kills during the tournament, including 15 against Brookhaven, and Rebecca Brown, who is the program's new assists leader for a single season, tallied 133 total assists in the three game tournament run. Brown finishes with 1,648 total assists for the season, which was best in the country in Division III. 
Tyriana Settles was named the tournament's MVP. She had a team high 41 kills during the three game run, and she also finished with 26 digs in the championship match. She finished as the national leader for Division III for kills with 640 total on the season. 
Sonny Lewis, who won his 700th career game back on October 26, was named the Coach of the Year for the second straight season. Lewis is now 708-200 in 19 years as the head coach of the Express. He has won 78 percent of the games he has coached at Owens. 
The back to back national championships is the second time an athletic program has completed such a feat in the school's history. The Owens men's basketball program won back to back titles in the 1991-1992 and the 1992-1993 seasons under then coach Jim Welling, an Eastwood graduate.
Despite the season having been over for months, the Owens volleyball program continued to rack up accolades. The program has had three players named to two different All-American teams. 
Settles and Bekier were the two lone players that were named to the NJCAA Division III All-American team. Both were first team selections.
Bekier finished eighth in the country in kills with 409 and she had an attacking percentage of .358 during the season. The Lake alum finished her Express career with 608 total kills during her two year career. She had 33 total kills during the tournament, including 15 against Brookhaven in the semifinal match of the tournament. 
VolleyballMag.com also released their NJCAA Division III All-American list and Settles was named the National Player of the Year. Bekier was named to the team. Joining them was freshman Rebecca Brown. Brown had an incredible season as a setter, setting a new school record in assists with 1,648 total assists for the season, which was best in the country in Division III too. She also tallied 133 total assists in the three game championship tournament run, which placed her on the All-Tournament team. 
Settles was also named by the NJCAA as its D-III Player of the Year. She joins former Owens volleyball player Michaela Eisenhauer, who won the award in 2018, as the only players in school history to win National Player of the Year honors.
"I'm very proud of Tyriana for receiving this award. She is a very deserving, hard-working young lady. She is a pleasure to coach, is always working to get better and is a great teammate," Lewis said. 
The Fostoria native was stellar during her first season for the Express, leading the team in kills, kills per set, digs. and points. She also was the national leader in kills with 640 kills, which ranks her second all time for kills in a single season in the 25-point era (since 2008) at the Division III level. (— includes press release contributions from Owens Sports Information Director Chris Schmidbauer)


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