Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy of Ohio Northern Athletics

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - The No. 8-ranked Ohio Northern volleyball team held a 9-3 lead in Set 5 but No. 2-ranked Emory (Ga.) went on a 12-3 run to capture the set and the match in the NCAA Semifinals Friday evening at the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan.

The Polar Bears end their season with a 34-5 record as the Eagles are now 34-6 and advance to the NCAA Championship Finals against La Verne (Calif.) tomorrow night at 7 pm.

Junior Renee Berry got ONU off to a great start in Set 5 with tough serving and a kill to take an early 4-1 lead.

ONU built its lead to 9-3 before the Eagles made their fantastic comeback.

"You have to give all the credit to Emory," said head coach Kate Witte. "When you're up 9-3 you have to able to close out the match, but their aggressive play allowed them to come back and win."

Berry led the way for the Polar Bears, recording a double-double with 11 kills and a career-high 21 digs.

Senior All-American Katie Weininger dished out 45 assists in the match, as junior All-American Liz Schnelle led the offense with 21 kills.

Freshman libero Kasey Roeser was the leading ONU defender with 24 digs. Junior Liz Decima and freshman Nicole Howard also recorded double digits with 16 and 11 digs, respectively.

Emory was led by its duo of First Team All-Americans in Dani Huffman and Alysse Meyer. Huffman had 25 kills and eight blocks, while Meyer had 13 kills.

Set 1 went back and forth for the duration, ending in a 29-27 ONU victory.

The Eagles then went on a 4-1 run to take an 11-7 lead and force Ohio Northern to call a timeout.

After a hitting error by Emory, Roeser had back-to-back aces followed by a kill from Abby Schaller to tie the match at 11-11 and put the Polar Bears right back in the set.

EU built its lead back to 14-12 before two consecutive kills from Schnelle and an Emory hitting error to give Northern the lead and force the Eagles to take their first timeout.

Both teams battled as Northern had an 18-17 advantage before Markham recorded blocks on two straight Emory swings. The first was a solo block and she teamed with Schaller on the second to give Northern a 20-17 cushion.

With a 22-21 lead, Northern sent an overpass off the serve and it appeared as if it were going to lead to an Emory kill, but Weininger came out of nowhere to solo block EU's middle hitter and give ONU a 23-21 lead.

Both teams had chances to close out the set, but in the end ONU prevailed after an ace from Roeser to give Northern a 28-27 lead followed by an Emory hitting error.

Schnelle led the way with seven kills in Set 1.

Emory again gained the first momentum of the set in Set 2 by jumping out to a 10-6 lead.

Like Set 1, Northern used a timeout to stop the Emory rally and went on a 5-2 run that was capped off by a Weininger ace to cut the deficit to 12-11.

EU quickly built the lead back up to 14-11 before ONU rallied off three in a row thanks to a an Emory error, a block by Berry and Markham and a sweet swing down the line by Berry.

A few points later, Markham recorded a solo block to give the Polar Bears their first lead of the set at 16-15.

Following suit of the first set, the teams went back and forth to finish out the set, but Northern again came out on top after two straight Schnelle kills to end Set 2 25-22.

Northern built a 4-2 Set 3 lead thanks to three solo blocks, two by Schnelle and one by Weininger.

Emory recovered from the slow start to take a 10-8 lead.

An ONU timeout did little slow the Eagles as they rallied off the next three to take a 13-8 lead and make Northern take its final timeout of the set.

EU never let up, winning Set 3 in dominating fashion 25-15.

The Polar Bears were unable to shake off the third set early in Set 4 as the Eagles jumped out to a 6-1 advantage.

Three straight kills by Schnelle brought ONU back into the match, but Emory went on to score the next six in a row to take a 12-4 lead.

The Eagles went on to control play and win Set 4 by the same score as Set 3, 25-15.

The loss snaps Ohio Northern school record 27-match winning streak.