GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Facing elimination and the end of its season entering the fourth set, Heidelberg rallied to take the frame and edged Geneva in the fifth set to earn a 3-2 (24-26, 25-14, 22-25, 25-18, 17-15) victory in the first round of the 2011 DIII NCAA tournament at Van Noord Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. The win advances the Berg to the second round where it will face the winner between the Rose-Hulman and No. 5 Wittenberg.

Heidelberg (32-6, 9-0 Ohio Athletic Conference), making its fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, evens its all-time NCAA tournament record at 4-4 and is looking to advance to quarterfinals for the first time in school history.

The Berg fell behind, 5-2, in the fifth set, but went on a 5-2 run to tie the score, 7-7. The deciding set saw 11 ties, including seven after the switch. Senior three-time All-OAC outside hitter Venessa Haase and junior setter Rachel Ferguson each posted double-doubles to lead the Tri Color. Haase, who recorded her fourth consecutive double-double and 12th of the season, had 15 kills and 28 digs, while Ferguson guided the offense with a team-high 30 assists and 11 digs.

Junior two-time All-OAC middle hitter Marian Bevington led the offense with 17 kills and junior two-time All-OAC right side hitter Jacki Street added 11 kills of her own. In addition to Ferguson, sophomore setter Alexa Frank helped guide the offense with 21 assists.

Defensively, four players tallied 10 or more digs, including a team-high 33 from freshman libero Tessa Benanzer and 28 from senior two-time OAC player of the year Jackie Reinhart. Junior second-team All-OAC middle hitter Amber Welfle blocked a team-high four Geneva attacks.

Geneva (25-9, 17-1 Presidents’ Athletic Conference) was led on offense by Rachel Kuegler and Ashley Davis with 12 kills each and Deanna Briody with a match-high 38 assists. Brianna Mixter and Erin Smith paced the defense with match-highs of 34 digs and six blocks, respectively.

The Berg’s second-round match against either RHIT or Wittenberg is slated for tomorrow at 4:30 p.m ET. Earlier this season, Wittenberg swept Heidelberg at Mount St. Joseph Invitational.