By Tim Glon
ADA — The No. 22-ranked Ohio Northern volleyball team opened its 2017 season with a pair of 4-set victories over Case Western Reserve and Ohio Wesleyan on the opening day of the 39th Annual ONU Invitational on Friday at the ONU Sports Center.
The Polar Bears (2-0) began play with an 18-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-15 victory over CWR (0-1) on Friday afternoon, then posted a 25-15, 23-25, 25-16, 25-13 win over OWU (0-1) Friday evening.
Senior Haley Potters (Wheelersburg/South Webster) had an outstanding opener for the Polar Bears, posting an impressive .750 hitting percentage with 19 kills and one error on just 24 attempts against Case.
She followed that with a 9-kill .435 hitting performance against OWU.
The victory marked the 18th time in the last 19 seasons that Ohio Northern opened its season with a win.
Northern started slowly, trailing by as many as 21-13 in Set 1, before rebounding in Set 2.
ONU used an 11-4 run to turn a 7-3 deficit into a 14-11 lead.
Case pulled even at 18-all, but a 4-1 run gave the Polar Bears a 22-19 lead.
Northern again rallied in Set 3, scoring six consecutive points to grab a 21-17 advantage. A kill by sophomore McKenna Jordan (Toledo/St. Ursula) and an ace from freshman Katie Wade (Battle Creek, Mich./Harper Creek) iced the set for ONU.
The Polar Bears pulled away quickly in Set 4, using an early 6-1 run to go up 11-5.
Case would not get within five points the rest of the way as the Polar Bears clinched the victory.
Ohio Northern hit .213 with 58 kills and 26 errors, while Case hit .152 with 46 kills and 22 errors.
Against Ohio Wesleyan, Jordan led ONU with 15 kills and Huppert added 10 kills.
Northern did not trail in the first set and led 23-11 before settling for a 25-15 win.
The Battling Bishops battled back from an 11-6 deficit in Set 2 to take an 18-15 lead and held on for the 25-23 win.
The Polar Bears went on a 7-2 run in the third set to take a 13-11 lead. Northern led 20-16 and scored five straight to win the set 25-16.
An 8-0 run in Set 4 sealed the match as Northern took a commanding 19-9 lead.
The Polar Bears hit .230 with 50 kills and 16 errors, while the Bishops hit .078 with 44 kills and 31 errors.
"We struggled in the first match against Case," ONU head coach Kate Witte said. "We did not have any rhythm on offense, but pushed through it and found a way to win against a good opponent. Against OWU we made a few adjustments and found a much better rhythm against another solid team. I'm pleased at how we improved and came out of the day 2-0."
Ohio Northern will conclude tournament play on Saturday with matches against Carnegie Mellon (Pa.) at 10:30 am and Thomas More (Ky.) at 12:30 pm.