Wittenberg rallies past Chicago to reach regional championship
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Wittenberg overcame a slow start to overwhelm Chicago and move into the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 3-1 victory in a match played at Calvin.
The win moved Wittenberg into a regional championship match for the fourth consecutive year and the 11th time in program history. The Tigers have met Calvin three consecutive years in the regional finals, losing in 2010 and 2012, while beating the Knights in 2011 en route to the NCAA Division III title.
The regional championship is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Calvin. Wittenberg, which improved to 25-8 overall, will meet the host Knights.
It was the first time Chicago and Wittenberg had ever met on the court, and the University Athletic Association tournament champion Maroons got the upper hand initially, jumping out to leads of 9-3 and 14-7 in the first set before the Tigers rallied. Wittenberg battled all the way back before falling 30-28.
The final two Chicago points were won on errors by Wittenberg junior setter Meghan Vodopich, but she atoned for her mistakes were nearly flawless play over the final three sets, won by Wittenberg by scores of 25-20, 25-22 and 25-21. Vodopich finished with a career-high 13 kills to go along with 38 assists, three service aces, 17 digs and a block.
Her primary target on offense was sophomore Kara Seidenstricker, who set a program record with 22 kills, the highest total in a four-set match in the 25-point era. Her stats line was just as impressive, as Seidenstricker tallied six assists, two aces, 16 digs and three blocks.
Also of note was the play of junior libero Kiah Murray with 28 digs, sophomore Melissa Emming with 19 digs to go along with four kills. In addition, freshman Emily Kahlig was stellar on defense with five blocks, including a pair of solo efforts.