Mount Union wins first OAC crown
Purple Raiders upset No. 9 Heidelberg in five-set thriller
TIFFIN, Ohio -- No. 3 seed University of Mount Union outlasted top-seeded and ninth-ranked Heidelberg 3-2 (19-25, 25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 17-15) on Saturday in the 2011 Ohio Athletic Conference championship match at Seiberling Gymnasium.
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The loss snaps Heidelberg's (31-6, 9-0 OAC) 23-match winning streak against conference opponents dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season and ends its 16-match home winning streak dating back to 2009.
Despite the loss, the Berg still earned the conference's automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Volleyball Tournament by advancing to the finals as the regular season champion.
Mount Union (24-7, 7-2 OAC), making just its second appearance in the conference finals, won its first volleyball tournament championship in school history and will likely earn one of 20 at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.
Heidelberg took the first set before dropping sets two and three to the Purple Raiders. The Berg came back to even the match at two with a set-four victory. A see-saw fifth set kept the crowd on the edge of its seat. The Raiders clinched the championship by winning two unanswered points to edge Heidelberg in the final set 17-15.
The Mount Union offense was sparked by 23 kills from Taylor Webb and set by Julie Radigan with 58 assists, both match highs. Four Purple Raiders had 10 or more digs, led by Allison Insana with a match-high 36.Reigning OAC player of the year Jackie Reinhart and senior two-time All-OAC outside hitter Venessa Haase both had double-doubles with 11 kills and 22 digs each for Heidelberg. Haase's double-double was her 11th of the season and third of the tournament. Junior second-team All-OAC middle blocker Marian Bevington and sophomore middle hitter Amber Welfle also posted double-digit kills, with 15 and 11 respectively for the runners-up.
Three setters tallied double-digit assists for the first time this season, led by junior Rachel Ferguson with 29 and sophomore Alexa Frank and freshman Stephanie Romie with 12 each. Ferguson also served a match-high three aces.
In addition to Reinhart and Haase on defense, freshman libero Tessa Benanzer (Fort Loramie) recorded a team-high 23 digs, while Welfle blocked a match-high seven attacks.