No. 23 Volleyball clinches automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament, wins OAC Tournament Championship with 3-2 victory over Heidelberg

No. 23 Volleyball clinches automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament, wins OAC Tournament Championship with 3-2 victory over Heidelberg

By Caleb Scott

ADA — The No. 23-ranked Ohio Northern volleyball team won the 2016 Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Championship with a 3-2 victory over No. 2-seeded Heidelberg Saturday afternoon. 

The top-seeded Polar Bears improve to 27-3 overall, while the Student Princes drop to 23-9.

Northern used a balanced offensive attack as five players recorded double-figures in kills and digs.

Senior Ashley Borchers (Russia/Russia) posted a career-high and game-high 59 assists, while junior Haley Potters (Wheelersburg/South Webster) posted a career-high and game-high 20 kills.

Senior Claire Heitkamp (Maria Stein/Marion Local) added 12 kills, while freshmen Chelsea Huppert (Bremen, Ind./Bremen) added 13 kills, and Sydney Bapst (Grove City/Grove City) and McKenna Jordan (Toledo/St. Ursula) each added 10 kills for Northern.

Borchers completed the double-double with 10 digs, and added seven kills, while hitting a game-high .400.

Jordan also posted a double-double for the Polar Bears as she added 14 digs to her stat line.

Junior Megan Nieszala (Lambertville, Mich./St. Marys Catholic Central) posted a team-high 27 digs, while freshman McKenna Hostetler (Plain City/Alder) added 17 digs, and sophomore Michaela Sharlow (Tiffin/Columbian) added 10 digs for the Polar Bears.

"We are very fortunate to be able to win both the Regular Season Championship and OAC Tournament Championship," said head coach Kate Witte. "It was a testament to the leadership of our seniors. Our young kids really got into the mix and we had great team chemistry today."

Northern was able to gain control early in the match as it jumped out to a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

After Heidelberg knotted the first set at 19-19, Northern would use a 6-1 run to close the set out behind two kills from Heitkamp and two kills from Potters and take set one.

Two kills by Potters and a kill from Heitkamp would open the second set and give Northern an early 3-0 lead.

After Heidelberg fought back to climb within 18-20, a kill from Huppert would start a quick 5-2 run to close the second set out 25-20.

After falling in the third set, Northern would come out firing in the fourth set as it jumped out to a 5-0 lead behind kills from Jordan, Huppert and Bapst.

HU would fight back and take the fourth set 25-23.

In the final set, Northern fell into an early 6-3 deficit, before a quick 3-0 spurt forced a Student Prince timeout.

After falling behind 11-7, HU would pull within 9-11 to force a ONU timeout.

Northern would use a 3-0 run capped off by a kill from Potters to win the contest.

"There were a lot of momentum changes and I was really happy with the way we persevered," said Witte.

The Polar Bears clinched the OAC's automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament with their semifinal victory on Thursday and padded their resume with their 19th consecutive victory.

The NCAA Division III Volleyball Selection Show will air on Monday, November 7th, at 12:30 PM ET on NCAA.com. | Link |

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