The Ashland University volleyball team overcame a first-set loss, then rallied in a topsy-turvy fourth set to knock off visiting Davenport, 22-25, 25-19, 25-23, 28-26, in front of an enthusiastic crowd on Friday (Sept. 8) night at Kates Gymnasium.
Senior libero Kaitlin Bean established a school record for digs in a match with 33 on the night, besting a mark that stood since Mary Kate Glowe (2005) and Brandie Potter (1996) each had 32 in four-set matches.
The Eagles (8-2) snapped their brief two-match losing streak by grinding out a tough win in their GLIAC opener. Ashland improved to 5-0 at Kates Gymnasium this season.
The first set saw 13 ties and eight lead changes, but Davenport made the final push to close the set. AU had its most convincing win of the night in Set 2 when the Eagles took a 5-1 lead at the outset before the Panthers (5-5) rallied to tie it at 12. Ashland stabilized quickly after a timeout, and with three serves by sophomore McKinley Smith, regained a 16-12 advantage it would carry to the win.
Set 3 was tied at 22, but back-to-back kills by redshirt-junior Michaela Ping and junior Shelby Woycik gave Ashland set point. After a kill by DU and an Ashland timeout, Woycik finished the set with a kill.
The fourth set featured 18 tie scores and eight lead changes as the teams traded blows throughout. Ashland trailed 22-21, but then held match point at 24-22 after two straight kills by junior Sophi Cudworth. The Eagles couldn't put it away there as the Panthers tied the set with a couple kills.
Woycik gave Ashland another match point at 25-24 with a kill, but the Panthers got a kill and a block to get to set point as they tried to force a decisive fifth frame. The Eagles wouldn't go away. Woycik tied it at 26 with a kill and freshman Erin Krupar registered back-to-back kills to end the match.
Woycik led the Eagles with 24 kills (.212) and added 15 digs. Krupar chipped in 17 kills (.138) and 15 digs and Cudworth finished with 13 kills (.265). Freshman setter Zoey Peck was the third AU player with a double-double (53 assists, 14 digs).
Jenn Kay Vander Meer led the Panthers with 17 kills (.279) and 23 digs.
Ashland held a .184 to .166 advantage in hitting percentage and Davenport led in blocks, 7-3.
The Eagles will return to Kates Gymnasium on Saturday (Sept. 8) when they take on Grand Valley State at 2 p.m.