Volleyball drops five set thriller to Heidelberg in OAC Tournament Semifinals

Volleyball drops five set thriller to Heidelberg in OAC Tournament Semifinals

By: Andrew Korba

| OAC Tournament |

ALLIANCE -- The third seeded Ohio Northern volleyball team dropped a five set thriller to second seed Heidelberg 3-2 (20-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 19-17) in the OAC Tournament Semifinals on Friday evening.

The Polar Bears fall to 19-9 on the season, while the Student Princes move to 18-14.

Heidelberg advances to the OAC Tournament Championship, where it will face either top seed Mount Union or fourth seed Otterbein on Saturday.

Freshman Kristin Sessler led four ONU players in double figure kills with 14.

Sophomore Ellie Gillespie finished with 13 kills, freshman Claire Heitkamp recorded 11 and freshman Kelli Weininger added 10.

The teams split the first two sets, playing a fifth and deciding set for the third time this season.

Kills by sophomore Kaitlann Hogrefe and Gillespie spurred a 6-1 Northern lead in Set 5.

But the Student Princes rallied to tie things back up at 6-6.

A kill by Gillespie followed by and an attack error put the Polar Bears on top 8-6.

The Student Princes came right back with a 6-1 run to jump back in front 12-9.

A kill from Sessler sparked a 3-0 Polar Bear run to tie things back up at 12-12.

The teams would split the next four points to keep the score tied 14-14.

Heidelberg would win the next point to take a 15-14 lead, before key digs by Sessler allowed ONU to tie it at 15-15.

A kill by Weininger put Northern up 16-15, but the Student Princes came right back with a kill by Sarah Parker.

Both teams exchanged service errors on the next two points to keep the score tied at 17-17.

A kill by Parker and a block assist by Heidelberg's Janessa Scott and Parker clinched the set and match for the Student Princes.

"I am proud of the way our girls battled," said head coach Kate Witte. "We had some opportunities in the fifth set, but we let them slip away."

In Set 1, Heidelberg jumped out to an early 5-0 lead to force a Northern timeout.

The Polar Bears slowly chipped away and took their first lead of the match at 15-14 on an attack error.

With the score tied at 18-18, ONU reeled off a 7-2 run to capture the first set 25-20.

The second set saw the Polar Bears jump out to a 5-2 lead.

The Student Princes responded with a 5-0 spurt, before Northern came right back with a 5-0 run of their own, to take a 10-7 lead.

But HC responded with runs of 7-1 and 5-1 to grab the second set 25-18.

Set 3 saw the score the Student Princes grab a 16-14 lead.

The Polar Bears stormed back with an 8-0 run, with Gillespie picking up three service aces, to take a 22-16 lead.

Heidelberg would chip away and cut the ONU lead to 24-23, but a kill by Sessler gave Northern the set.

The Student Princes jumped out to a 15-11 lead in the fourth set, before Northern reeled off four straight points to tie the match at 15-15.

With the score tied at 20-20, Heidleberg used three kills to spark a 5-1 run and capture the set.

Sessler finished with a team best 32 digs, while senior Jeni Kmic added 21.

Sophomore Heather Saunier finished wiht 23 assists and 19 digs, while freshman Ashley Borchers chipped in with 16 assists.

Parker finished with a match high 25 kills for Heidelberg and Amber Welfe added 22 more.

"Give Heidelberg credit, they played a tough match all evening," added Witte. "We now have to hope and wait to see what happens next."

Ohio Northern will find out its fate for the NCAA III Tournament, when the field is announced on Monday at 11 am.