By Tim Glon
ADA — Sophomore McKenna Jordan (Toledo/Saint Ursula) had a team-high 15 kills, but the No. 17-ranked Ohio Northern volleyball team dropped a tight 25-20, 25-17, 18-25, 23-25, 15-10 decision to Otterbein on Wednesday night in a battle of Ohio Athletic Conference unbeatens at the ONU Sports Center.
The Polar Bears fall to 16-4 overall and 1-1 in the OAC, while the Cardinals move into first place in the OAC with a 3-0 mark and are 18-1 overall.
Sophomore Chelsea Huppert (Bremen, Ind.) added 12 kills, freshman Katie Wade (Battle Creek, Mich./Harper Creek) dished out 45 assists and senior All-American Megan Nieszala (Lambertville, Mich./Saint Mary's Central Catholic) had a match-high 26 digs for ONU.
Otterbein was led by Hadley Sterett with 22 kills and Morgan Lowenkamp with 20 kills.
The Polar Bears started slowly, hitting just .047 and .081 in the first two sets. The Cardinals took advantage, hitting .355 and .314 in those sets to take a 2-0 lead in the match with 25-20, 25-17 wins.
But Ohio Northern battled back and hit .324 in the third set and won the set 25-18.
Set 4 was tied at 22-all, but a kill by sophomore Sydney Bapst (Grove City), a block by junior Josie Andres (Sunman, Ind./East Central) and a kill by Wade gave ONU a 25-23 win and evened the match at 2 sets each.
But Otterbein took advantage of back-to-back service errors and had nine kills against only one error to win the fifth and eciding set 15-10.
"We have to start better," ONU head coach Kate Witte said. "I am happy with our fight and grit to get back into the match. But then we made too many mistakes in the fifth set and Otterbein took advantage of them. This might be the best Otterbein team since I've been here. They are very talented and played very well."
Ohio Northern hit .138 for the match with 53 kills and 27 errors, while Otterbein hit .230 with 66 kills and 24 errors.
The Polar Bears will return to action Friday evening with a 7 pm match at OAC foe Capital.