THE TURNING POINT: After losing the third and fourth sets, then going down in set No. 5 5-3, Ashland scored five consecutive points and didn't trail the rest of the way.
STAT OF THE DAY: The Eagles finished the home season at 11-0, their most wins at Kates Gymnasium in a season since 2013 (11-3).
Despite seemingly having its collective back against the wall, Ashland University's volleyball team wasn't going to be denied an undefeated home season.
The Eagles improved to 22-9 overall (12-1 in their last 13 matches) and 11-0 at Kates Gymnasium after a 3-2 (25-11, 25-19, 19-25, 18-25, 15-11) win over Wayne State in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal on Wednesday (Nov. 16) night.
"We expected Wayne to come in, they were basically fighting for their life in the conference tournament and the NCAA Tournament," said Ashland head coach Cass Dixon. "We knew that they would be more prepared, we knew they weren't going to give us points in missed serves, aces."
Ashland is the tournament's No. 3 seed, Wayne State No. 6. In the third and final Midwest Regional rankings on Wednesday, the Eagles were No. 6, the Warriors No. 7.
Wednesday's first two sets were all Ashland, as the Eagles had a .519 hitting percentage in set No. 1, and they kept the Warriors to a cumulative hitting percentage of .015.
Wayne State, however, did an about-face in the third and fourth sets, winning long rallies en route to a 2-2 tie in the match.
Down 5-3 in the deciding set, Ashland rallied to score five consecutive points, and didn't trail the rest of the way.
"It was definitely that momentum shift," Dixon said. "They did a really good job of getting us out of system on our first contact, and we weren't taking very good swings. We got caught on our heels."
The star of the match was sophomore setter Kayla Pfeiffer, who totaled 39 assists, 16 digs, four block assists, one solo block and two kills.
"Kayla has done an exceptional job for us, especially down the stretch," said Dixon. "She really has been distributing the ball really, really well, getting everybody involved. Our offense is pretty well balanced, based on how she distributed the ball."
Senior right-side hitter Alli Cudworth posted 17 kills and 14 digs for a double-double, and is 19 digs away from becoming the program's third 1,000 kills-1,000 digs player.
Freshman outside hitter Shelby Woycik added 12 kills, and senior outside hitter Casey Clark ended with 19 kills, seven digs and five block assists. Sophomore middle blocker Reanne Neal had nine of the Eagles' 28 block assists.
UP NEXT: Saturday (Nov. 19) at 5:30 p.m. in a GLIAC Tournament semifinal against No. 7 seed Lake Erie at Ferris State.