Nov. 20, 2008

Courtesy Ohio Northern Athletics

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - Liz Schnelle drilled 19 kills and No. 8-ranked Ohio Northern defeated Williams (Mass.) 25-16, 25-14, 25-10 in the NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament quarterfinals Thursday night at Illinois Wesleyan's Shirk Center.

The Polar Bears advance to Friday night's semifinals with a 34-4 record, while the Ephs end their season with a 28-13 record.

ONU extends its school-record winning streak to 27 matches.

Ohio Northern will face No. 2 Emory (Ga.) Friday night at 8 pm (EST). The Eagles advanced to the semifinals with a 25-16, 16-25, 25-14, 25-20 victory over No. 23 Saint Benedict (Minn.) in a quarterfinal match earlier Thursday.

The Polar Bears will be making their first appearance in the Final Four since the squad finished as NCAA runners-up in 1989.

Schnelle's 19 kills gives her 571 for the season, which is just two kills shy of the school-record 573 she had as a sophomore in 2007.

Abby Schaller had nine kills and Renee Berry, Samantha Markham and Katie Weininger had six kills each.

Weininger dished out 39 assists and Kasey Roeser had 23 digs and four service aces.

The Ephs were led by Nicole Ballon-Landa with 12 kills.

The Polar Bears got out of the gate quickly, racing to a 10-2 lead in Set 1. Kasey Roeser set the tone with back-to-back aces to start the match. A pair of kills by Weininger and three kills by Schnelle gave the Polar Bears as early advantage.

The Ephs quickly got back into the match, using an 8-2 run of their own to climb within 12-10.

Samantha Markham and Renee Berry each had kills, Berry had an ace and Schnelle drilled two kills sandwiched around a Weininger kill as the Polar Bears extended their lead to 18-12 with a 6-2 run.

Northern closed out the opening set on a kill by Markham, a kill by Abby Schaller, a kill by Weininger and a block by Markham and Scahller to with the opening set 25-16.

Northern hit .368 as a team in the opening set.

In Set 2, ONU again got off to a quick start. Riding three kills apeice from Schnelle and Sharon Guzik, the Polar Bears jumped to a 7-2 lead.

Three more Schnelle kills sparked a 6-1 ONU run that gave the Polar Bears a 16-6 advantage.

The lead grew to 23-11 on an ace by Berry and Schaller kill ended the set at 25-14, giving the Polar Bears a 2 sets to none advantage.

Schnelle had seven kills and Guzik had four kills for the Polar Bears in the set.

In Set 3, Roeser had a pair of aces, Schnelle had a kill and Schaller had threekiills as the Polar Bears took an early 7-0 lead.

Three kills by Berry sparked a 5-1 run that extended the Polar Bear lead to 15-4. The lead grew to as many as 13 on three different occasions before a kill by Schaller wrapped up the match.

"Williams did a lot to frustrate us in the beginning to keep the score close," said head coach Kate Witte. "We finally settled down and were able to pass in system the rest of the match and that seemed to be the difference."