By Tim Glon
ADA —No. 18-ranked Ohio Northern swept Mount Union 25-19, 25-17, 25-22 in the semifinals of the Ohio Athletic Conference Volleyball Tournament Thursday evening at the ONU Sports Center.
The second-seeded Polar Bears (27-4 overall) were OAC Regular Season Co-Champions and will travel to top-seeded and OAC Co-Champion Otterbein in Saturday's finals at 2 pm.
The third-seeded Purple Raiders fall to 25-5.
Northern is gunning for its league-record 20th OAC Tournament title and is now an impressive 66-14 in OAC Tournament play.
The Polar Bears have reached the OAC Tournament championship match on 25 other occasions in the previous 33-year history of the event and are 19-6 in program history in the finals.
Sophomore Chelsea Huppert (Bremen, Ind.) had 13 kills and six blocks, senior Haley Potters (Wheelersburg/South Webster) had 11 kills and four blocks and sophomore McKenna Jordan (Toledo/Saint Ursula) chipped in nine kills and a team-best nine digs to lead Ohio Northern.
Mount Union was led by Brooke Knollman with 11 kills.
The Polar Bears used a 5-1 run midway through the first set to take a 16-12 lead. Mount Union pulled within 21-18, but ONU finished the set on a 4-1 run to win the opener 25-19.
In Set 2, a 6-1 Polar Bear run broke an 11-all tie and gave the hosts a 17-12 advantage. Again MtU made a run, pulling within 17-15, but again Ohio Northern pulled away late, scoring six of the final seven points to win 20-25.
In the third set, ONU fell behind quickly 5-0 and trailed 13-10 when an impressive 11-0 run gave the Polar Bears a commanding 21-13 lead.
The visitors battled back to within 24-22, but a kill by Huppert ended the match at 25-22.
"I thought we played well for the most part and we are excited for the opportunity to play for the OAC Tournament title on Saturday," ONU head coach Kate Witte said. "Mount Union is a very good team and I think they should receive an NCAA Tournament bid as an at-large out of our tough conference. Offensively we did many things well and defensively we were solid. It is survive and advance in tournament play and we played well enough to accomplish that."
Ohio Northern hit .272 for the match with 46 kills and 15 errors, while Mount Union hit .136 with 38 kills and 23 errors.
Otterbein advanced to the finals with a 25-20, 25-20, 25-21 win over fourth-seeded Heidelberg on Thursday.
OU and ONU both finished at 8-1 in league play to share the regular season crown, but the Cardinals received the top seed and the home court advantage that goes with it by virtue of their 25-20, 25-17, 18-25, 23-25, 15-10 win over the Polar Bears on Oct. 4.