Hillsdale Holds On, Ends AU's Season, 3-2

Baley Bernthisel (10) and Brittany Snider (5)
Baley Bernthisel (10) and Brittany Snider (5)

When the Ashland University volleyball team returns to town this weekend, it may have a call waiting from the Cleveland Clinic. When it comes to studying the heart and how it works, the Eagles may be the best candidate for an instructional video.

The strength of the Eagles' ticker can't be questioned after the way this season played out. Thursday (Nov. 29), the Eagles advanced to the second round of the NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament with a 3-2 win over second-seeded Northwood. The Eagles trailed in that match, 2-0.

Friday (Nov. 30) at Indianapolis, the seventh-seeded Eagles were matched against the sixth seed, Hillsdale. The Eagles took a 2-0 lead thanks to 25-18 and 25-15 triumphs. The Chargers bounced back with two impressive wins, evening the contest with 25-17 and 25-13 victories.

That brought eveything down to a fifth set. That battle went back and forth until the score was tied, 14-14. The Chargers went in front by a point on a kill by Emily Wolfert, her 22nd of the night. Moments later, the Chargers wrapped up the match and moved to the regional finals on a kill by Haylee Booms that made the score 16-14.

The Chargers (17-15) are the defending regional champions. They advanced to Friday's match with a 3-1 victory over third-seeded Grand Valley State. This was AU's first postseason appearance since 2007. This AU team lists only two seniors. Ashland ends the year with a 24-9 record.

This was a match with wild swings. In the first two sets, AU dominated play. AU had a hitting percentage of .324 in the first set and .484 in the second. The Chargers, who knocked off the Eagles, 3-0 back on Oct. 20 in Ashland, then ran away with two wins. 

In the fifth set, AU took a 1-0 lead and then saw the Chargers win four straight points. The Eagles didn't panic and eventually tied the set, 7-7. The set was tied 8-8, 9-9, 13-13 and finally, 14-14.

AU senior outside hitter Brittany Snider (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) led all players in the match with 23 kills.  Junior middle blocker Baley Bernthisel (Grand Rapids, Ohio/Otsego) had 14 kills.  Senior setter Crystal Elliott (Canal Winchester, Ohio) had 49 assists and 12 digs.  Junior outside hitter Kate Eckels (Loveland, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame) had 15 digs. Junior libero Marci Zegarac (Lansing, Ill./South) led the Eagles with 26 digs.

Wolfert led the Chargers in kills.  Caitlin Kopmeyer had 11 kills and 20 digs.  Lauren K. Grover and Booms had 10 kills each. Setter Alexis Waugh had 49 assists.