INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Seventh-seeded Ashland stunned second-seeded Northwood (Mich.) 3-2 on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The victory sends the Eagles into Friday’s regional semifinals against Hillsdale.
The win gave AU a 24-8 record. Northwood finished the season 26-7.
Entering the postseason, the Eagles were 0-2 against the Timberwolves this season.
Ashland’s outside hitter Kate Eckels and libero Marci Zegarac were each nursing injuries. Eckels had a bad ankle and Zegarac a balky hamstring. Both players made it to the court on Thursday. Zegarac had 20 digs and Eckels recorded three kills and 11 digs in the winning effort.
Ashland took a 2-0 lead by winning the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-19. Northwood got back into the contest by winning the next two sets, 25-20 and 25-20. Midway through the fifth and final set, the Eagles grabbed control. The Eagles closed out the match with two aces and a kill in the 15-10 fifth-set win.
AU senior outside hitter Brittany Snider led all players in the match with 25 kills. She had a .254 hitting percentage and 14 digs. This was her 12th double-double of the year. Junior middle blocker Baley Bernthisel had 16 kills and four errors in 37 attacks (.324). Senior setter Crystal Elliott finished with 46 assists and a team-high 21 digs. This was her 13th double-double in 2012.
Northwood was led by Tatjana Rajic, who had 20 kills. GLIAC player of the year Juliia Pakhomenko had 17 kills and 12 digs.