GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Wittenberg defeated rival Hope 3-0 in the second round of the NCAA tournament Friday. The Tigers have won 16 consecutive sets and eight matches in a row in the NCAA tournament, dating back to a 2010 loss to Calvin and including a run to the 2011 national title.
The Tigers (27-4) defeated Hope for the second time this season and the 14th time in 16 all-time meetings. The Flying Dutch, runners-up in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, saw their season come to a close with a record of 29-5.
The key to the match was Wittenberg’s ability to answer every Hope run, taking the lead midway through the first set with a five-point burst. The Tigers spread the offensive attack around – nine different players recorded at least one kill – and playing steady defense, sparked by senior libero Christina Gilene with 30 digs.
Gilene’s defensive performance translated to a .225 team attack percentage, with freshman Kara Seidenstricker posting 14 kills from the right pole and senior Jessica Batanian leading the Tigers with 15 kills. Both players also had a hand in eight team blocks – the third-highest total of the season for Wittenberg. Junior Andrea Behling led with six blocks, followed by Seidenstricker with five.
Wittenberg advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament Round 3 for the 12th time in program history. The Tigers will take on the winner of a second round match between 13th-ranked Mount Union and top-ranked Calvin on Saturday.