By Blake Moore
ADA - Ohio Northern fans had plenty to cheer about Saturday afternoon inside the ONU Sports Center as their No. 23-ranked women's volleyball program knocked off Ohio Athletic Conference foe Capital in straight sets of 25-15, 25-19, and 25-10 on Senior Day.
With the victory, the Polar Bears improve to 17-7 overall and to 6-1 in league play. Meanwhile, Capital drops to 0-23 overall and 0-7 within the conference.
Prior to the match, Northern recognized the program's three seniors: Taylor Emery (Holland, Springfield), Michaela Sharlow (Tiffin/Columbian), and Josie Andres (Sunman, Ind./East Central). The pre-game festivities honored the seniors' hard work and dedication to the Ohio Northern volleyball program.
On the court, the Crusaders and Polar Bears battled back-and-forth throughout the early first set, leading to a 7-7 scoreline. However, a 7-0 run would propel ONU to a 14-7 advantage and eventually allow the home side to capture the first set victory.
The second set would see the highly-competitive action continue. Neither team would lead by more than two points as Capital and Ohio Northern exchanged leads several times until a late run sealed the set for the Polar Bears. The run would start with a kill from junior Sydney Bapst (Grove City) that made the ONU lead 21-19 and end with All-American Chelsea Huppert (Bremen, Ind.) adding the exclamation point.
The home side bolted out to an early 4-0 edge in the third set as Northern benefitted from two Crusader miscues and a pair of kills from freshman middle hitter Madi Ellis (Delphos/St. John's). The Polar Bears would string together four consecutive points on two more occasions in the set, leading to the sweep.
Huppert would lead the Ohio Northern offense with 10 kills in the victory on 18 total attacks and a .500 hitting percentage. She would also register five digs to aid the defensive efforts.
Ellis would continue her successful first season ending second with nine kills on 12 total attacks, giving her a stratospheric attack percentage of .750 in the match.
Defensively, junior defensive specialist/libero McKenna Hostetler (Plain City/Alder) led Northern with 13 digs.
In their final home match, Emery, Sharlow, and Andres each registered time on the court in two sets. Emery and Sharlow tallied six and five digs, respectively, while Andres provided three kills on a .286 hitting percentage.
As a team, Northern would hit .299 as a team with 43 kills in the conference affair. They would also register 56 digs defensively.
The Polar Bears will finish their 2018 regular season slate next week on the road at Otterbein on Tuesday and at Mount Union next Saturday. Tuesday's match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start inside the Rike Center in Westerville, Ohio, and Saturday's finale will be held in the McPherson Athletic and Academic Complex in Alliance, Ohio.