By Blake Moore
ADA - The No. 20-ranked Ohio Northern women's volleyball program defeated fourth-seeded Baldwin Wallace 3-1 inside the ONU Sports Center Thursday evening, securing their league-leading 27th all-time berth in the OAC Tournament Finals.
With the victory, ONU improves to 21-7 overall on the season. The Polar Bears will now face third-seeded Muskingum in the conference tournament's championship match on Saturday, November 3.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets conclude their postseason OAC Tournament run with a 27-5 overall record.
Ohio Northern would receive 13 kills each from juniors McKenna Jordan (Toledo/St. Ursula), Sydney Bapst (Grove City), and All-American Chelsea Huppert (Bremen, Ind.) in the 21-25, 25-20, 25-20, and 25-22 victory. The trio would pace a Polar Bear offense that posted 54 total kills and hit .176 in the match.
Huppert topped the team with a .257 hitting percentage on 35 total attacks. She also provided pressure defensively at the net, adding a team-high six blocks to the scorecard.
With her 10th kill of the evening, Huppert also surpassed the 1,000 career kill plateau.
Sophomore setter Katie Wade (Battle Creek, Mich./Harper Creek) notched her 26th career double-double effort Thursday evening after leading all players with 47 assists and tallying 10 digs.
Defensively, libero McKenna Hostetler (Plain City/Alder) and defensive specialist Madison Broering (Saint Henry) guided the Ohio Northern backline with 17 and 14 digs, respectively. Freshman Hannah Irmer (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) also chipped in a career-high 13 digs.
In a close, back-and-forth first set, Northern would battle Baldwin Wallace to a 21-21 game score before the Yellow Jackets rattled off the final four points to take a 1-0 lead.
The Polar Bears were able to regroup in the second set after finding themselves down early. ONU would trail 15-11 before going on a four-point run of their own to even the scoreline and swing the momentum in their favor midway through the set. A Jordan kill would tie the match at one-all heading to the third.
The third set saw similar tight-knit action throughout as Ohio Northern trailed 14-9 in the stanza. Bapst would register a kill that started a five-point rally to knot the set at 14-14. ONU would finished the frame with another three-point run, ending with a Baldwin Wallace attack error.
In set four, Northern capped the match with a 25-22 win that concluded with another Jordan kill.
Ohio Northern will now host third-seeded Muskingum in the OAC Tournament Finals this Saturday, November 3, seeking their 20th OAC Tournament title in program history. Match time is set for 2 p.m. inside the ONU Sports Center in Ada.