By Tim Glon
COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Northern volleyball team opened its Ohio Athletic Conference schedule with a 25-15, 25-21, 25-21 victory at Capital Saturday afternoon at the Capital Center.
The Polar Bears improve to 11-6 overall and are 1-0 in OAC play, while the Crusaders fall to 11-9, 0-1.
Capital was led by Hannah Ewart with 10 kills.
Northern's defense was dominant in Set 1. Trailing 2-1 early, ONU used a 12-2 run to take a commanding 13-4 lead. CU would pull within 13-7, but the Polar Bears would pull away for the convincing opening set win.
In Set 2, Northern again used a big early run to take control. Two kills by Heitkamp sparked a 12-1 run that would put ONU up 13-3.
The ONU lead was 17-6 when the Crusaders went on a 10-1 run to pull within 18-16. But ONU responded with three consecutive points, capped by a block by freshman Kelli Weininger, to regain a 21-16 lead.
In Set 3, three kills by Sessler keyed another early run, as ONU scored seven straight points to go up 12-4.
But CU rallied with an 8-2 run to tie the match at 17-17.
ONU led 22-21 when kills by freshman Claire Heitkamp, Gillespie and Weininger finished off the match.
"We played solid today," ONU head coach Kate Witte said. "We improved this week. We played well defensively and that was a big key. We need to work on regaining momentum when we are ahead, but we are overall happy with our performance.
"We are honored to be a part of today's activities for Capital head coach Pam Briggs, who is battling cancer. Our thoughts are with her, her athletes and the alumni of the program that she has a quick and complete recovery."
Northern hit .228 with 44 kills and Capital hit .137 with 34 kills.
The Polar Bears will return to action Saturday, Oct. 5, with a home contest against No. 8-ranked Mount Union.