Sept. 23, 2009

By Amy Farnum

BEAR TRACKS: Ohio Northern University head coach Kate Witte collected her 500th career victory as the Polar Bears went 5-0, including two wins over nationally-ranked opponents, last week.

The Polar Bears’ week was highlighted by wins over then-No. 10 Calvin and then-No. 8 Hope, which marked Witte’s milestone victory, at the Wittenberg Border Battle.  Witte has compiled a 501-153 record in 19 seasons at ONU.

Senior middle blocker Liz Schnelle once again starred for the Polar Bears, averaging 5.18 kills, 1.06 digs and 0.53 blocks per set as she garnered all-tournament team honors and was named Sports Imports/AVCA Division III National Player of the Week for the fourth time of her career.  The native of New Bremen, Ohio, posted a career-best .778 hitting percentage along with 18 kills in the sweep of Hope.

The fifth-ranked Polar Bears continue their tough schedule when they host No. 9 Wittenberg in a battle of Top 10 teams.

TOP-RANKED TITANS:  UW-Oshkosh gained the No. 1 ranking in the AVCA Division III Top 25 for the first time in program history after putting together a 4-0 record last week, while previously top-ranked Juniata and second-ranked Emory dropped matches.

The Titans (14-0) join No. 14 Texas Dallas as one of just two teams in the Top 25 with undefeated records, while two other Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference squads are listed in the national rankings – No. 12 UW-Whitewater and No. 16 UW-Eau Claire. 

UW-Oshkosh hosts UW-Whitewater on Sept. 23 for a WIAC as the Titans put their 22-match home winning streak on the line.  The last five matches of the series have gone to five sets, and the road team has won the last six meetings.

BEARING DOWN: Washington (Mo.) University jumped three spots to a tie for No. 4 in the latest AVCA Division III Top 25 after three victories over nationally-ranked foes at the Teri Clemens Invitational, including a 3-0 upset of then-No. 1 Juniata.

Freshman libero Kelly Pang combined for 65 digs for an average of 5.91 per set in the wins over Juniata, No. 18 La Verne and No. 6 St. Thomas.  Her stellar defensive play earned Pang University Athletic Association Co-Player of the Week, and all-tournament team honors.  Pang followed the weekend with a career-best 33 digs for the Bears in a 3-1 loss to Division II’s Missouri-St. Louis on Sept. 22.

The Bears are back in action on Sept. 23 against Fontbonne University before taking the weekend off to prepare for UAA Round Robin play on Oct. 3-4.

COMETS SOAR:  Texas-Dallas continued its hot start as the Comets proved worthy of their No. 14 national ranking by sweeping cross-town rival University of Dallas on Sept. 22 to remain unbeaten on the season.

The victory was the Comets’ fourth straight sweep, and sixth in their first eight matches as they tallied 45 kills with a .346 hitting percentage in the non-conference meeting.

Junior middle blocker Jessica Nassau, the reigning American Southwest Conference East Offensive Player of the Week, posted 14 kills in the match, while ASC East Defensive Player of the Week Kyleigh Irish added 13 kills and 10 digs.  As a team, the Comets pace the ASC with 13.33 kills per game and a .249 hitting percentage

UTD returns to league action this weekend as it visits UT-Tyler and LeTourneau.