By: Joe Clarkson
ADA — The Ohio Northern volleyball team defeated Hanover (Ind.) and Transylvania (Ky.) on the opening day of the OAC/HCAC Challenge on Friday at the ONU Sports Center.
The Polar Bears (7-7) swept the Panthers (8-5) 27-25, 25-23, 25-22 Friday afternoon and topped the Pioneers (8-7) 25-17, 25-10, 14-25, 25-16 Friday evening.
"We didn't play well during the first match, but found a way to win," ONU head coach Kate Witte said. "However, we played more consistently against Transylvania, and I'm happy about that."
Against Transylvania, sophomore Cenzie Yoder and junior Ellen Grenert led the way with 14 and 12 kills respectively. Grenert also added 12 digs.
Sophomore Jeni Kmic notched a team-high 22 digs, while freshman Rachel Olach recorded a match-high six blocks.
For Transylvania, Rachel D'Agnillo contributed a match-high 25 digs, while Rebecca Luking dished out 41 assists.
The Polar Bears got off to a quick 13-7 start thanks to a four-point service run that included kills from Yoder and sophomore Jayce Born.
Kills from Yoder and Grenert down the stretch gave ONU the first set.
With the score tied at 19-19 during the second set, Northern used kills from Born, Grenert and Olach to win the set.
ONU fell behind 14-7 in the third set. Transylvania continued to dominate in the set by extending their lead to 22-13 off a four-point service run. A Lauren Ketron kill gave the set to the Pioneers.
A four-point service run highlighted by two Amanda Volosin aces and Grenert and Born kills gave the Polar Bears a 8-5 edge in the fourth set.
Northern extended their lead in the set by kills from Grenert and sophomore Kristen Davidson. An ace from sophomore Hannah Livengood gave the Polar Bears the victory.
Against Hanover, Yoder led the way for the Polar Bears with 12 kills on a .357 clip. Grenert contributed 10 kills and 17 digs.
Freshman Hannah English dished out 39 assists and added 11 digs.
Kmic recorded a match-high 25 digs, while Olach notched five blocks.
Abby Merritt led the way for Hanover with 12 kills. Ashleigh Burakiewicz contributed 22 digs.
Trailing 8-11 in the first set, the Polar Bears used kills from Yoder, Davidson and sophomore Nicole Potkotter to earn a 19-17 advantage.
Merritt recorded three kills and an ace down the stretch to even the score at 24-24.
Grenert notched two kills to give the Polar Bears a 26-25 edge, and a Hanover hitting error gave the set to ONU.
In the second set, kills from Yoder, Grenert and Davidson gave the Polar Bears a 15-10 edge.
Hanover put together a three-point service run to bring the score to 24-23, but a Yoder kill gave the second set to the Polar Bears.
ONU got off to a quick 10-5 start, highlighted by two Davidson aces and Yoder and Potkotter kills.
Trailing 13-22, the Panthers fought back to within two, before English found Potkotter for the match-winning kill.
"Tomorrow will be difficult and a great challenge for us," Witte said. "We grew today though, and I feel good about that."
The Polar Bears return to action Saturday in the final day of the tournament against Mount Saint Joseph at 10 am and against area-rival Bluffton at 2 pm at the ONU Sports Center.