By Tim Glon
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Ohio Northern was eliminated by No. 2-ranked Wittenberg in the First Round of the NCAA III Volleyball Great Lakes Regional Tournament 25-23, 25-20, 25-17 Thursday afternoon at Calvin's Van Noord Arena.
The Polar Bears end their season at 24-7 overall, while the Tigers improve to 26-4.
Wittenberg will advance to the Second Round of the tournament and will face either No. 6-ranked Hope (Mich.) or No. 10-ranked Otterbein Friday at 4:30 pm.
The Regional finals are slated for Saturday at 7 pm.
Kara Seidenstricker and Jessica Batanian led the Tigers with 19 and 14 kills, respectively.
In Set 1, Northern jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, forcing a quick Tiger timeout.
WU responded with a 13-6 run to go up 13-9 and extended its lead to 17-12.
But the polar Bears rallied and went on a 6-1 run to close within 23-22.
Wittenberg then put the set away with kills by Batanian and Seidenstricker to win 25-23.
"We had opportunities in the first set," ONU head coach Kate Witte said. "We did a good job of making adjustments and gave good effort all day. But we were not consistent enough getting into our system. When you play good teams you need to do the little things well to be successful and we were too inconsistent today."
The Polar Bears went on a 4-0 run in Set 2 to tie the score at 9-9, but the Tigers responded with a 9-1 run to take a commanding 18-10 advantage.
The lead was 23-14 when ONU went on a 5-0 run to pull within 23-19.
In Set 3, Northern used a 4-1 run, capped by a kill from Zumberger, to go ahead 7-6 early.
Later, Wittenberg went on a 5-0 run to go up 11-7, then ended the match on a 10-3 run.
"To get back to the NCAA Tournament is a very big step forward for our program," Witte said. "We played four freshman throughout the year with good leadership from our two seniors and this was a nice reward for our team."
Ohio Northern hit .149 for the match with 34 kills, while Wittenberg hit .243 with 52 kills.
The match marked the 28th NCAA Tournament appearance for Ohio Northern in the 32-year history of the event.