By Tim Glon
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — No. 10-ranked Ohio Northern swept Aurora (Ill.) 25-18, 25-15, 25-20 in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Thursday evening at the Van Noord Arena.
The Polar Bears (27-5 overall) advance to the second round where they will face the winner of tonight's final match between tournament host and No. 3 ranked Calvin (Mich.) and DePauw (Ind.) on Friday night at 8 pm.
The Spartans end their season with a 23-11 record.
"I am very pleased at our effort tonight," ONU head coach Kate Witte said. " It was nice to advance and get another opportunity to play. Both Calvin and DePauw are physical and aggressive, but we are excited about the challenge."
"We really had fun tonight," Huppert said. "It was great to get back to the NCAA Tournament and get a win. This was our first victory on this (Calvin's) floor, so it was nice to get over that hurdle."
Ohio Northern's men's soccer team was in attendance ahead of its own NCAA Tournament match on Friday afternoon at Calvin.
"It was great having our men's soccer team here," Jordan said. "They were really loud and gave us great energy. We are going to their match tomorrow afternoon as hopefully we can give them a spark too."
In the opening set, ONU used a 4-1 run to grab a 20-16 lead. The lead eventually grew to 24-18 before a kill by Huppert ended the set.
Set 2 saw the Polar Bears use a 4-0 run to take a 14-8 advantage. A 5-1 run would make it 23-14 and ONU would take a 2-0 set lead.
Northern went on a 4-1 run to grab an early 12-7 lead in the third set. The lead grew to 21-15 after a 4-0 run, capped by a kill from freshman Madison Kern (Loveland/Mount Notre Dame).
Kills by senior Sydney Bapst (Grove City) and Huppert ended the match.
Sydnei Avery led AU with 14 kills.
Ohio Northern hit .280 with 42 kills and only nine errors on 118 attempts, while Aurora hit .119 with 40 kills and 24 errors on 135 attempts.
The Polar Bears are making their 32nd appearance in the NCAA III Tournament and have a 38-31 record in tournament play, including a trip to the NCAA Semifinals in 2008 and a Runner-Up finish in 1989.