Otterbein takes down DePauw for first NCAA tournament victory
ELMHURST, Ill. -- Otterbein secured another piece of school history on Thursday afternoon, taking down DePauw in straight sets to win the first NCAA tournament match in program history.
Otterbein earned the victory by scores of 25-21, 25-15, 25-23 to improve to 27-7 on the season and advance to Friday's regional semifinal against Hope.
The Cardinals fell behind 8-4 early on in the first, but settled in and took a 10-9 lead after a kill from junior Kendel Kellogg.
The set then saw ties at 10-10, 11-11, 12-12, and 13-13 before Otterbein strung together two quick points. DePauw (26-7) tied the set twice more, but the Cards kicked into gear with five consecutive points to open a 21-16 lead and force a Tiger timeout.
DePauw won the next two points out of the timeout, but Otterbein eventually captured the opener after Kellogg buried her seventh kill of first frame.
The Cards took the first four points of the second set and stayed in control to seize a 14-8 lead, forcing another DePauw timeout. The Tigers again tallied two consecutive points out of the break, but it wouldn't be nearly enough as Otterbein got two service aces from sophomore Lauren Beitel down the stretch as part of a 10-3 run to end the set.
The Tigers came out strong on the third, opening a 10-6 lead to force Cardinal head coach Monica McDonald to use a timeout.
A backward, left-handed dump attack from setter Tabatha Piper helped give Otterbein some momentum in the third, bringing the team to within 15-13. The play would be part of a 9-2 run to help give the Cards a 21-17 lead.
DePauw battled back to draw even at 21-21, but Otterbein would ultimately regain control to finish the job.
Kellogg and senior outside Annie Juenger were impressive throughout, combining to put down 29 kills for an Otterbein team that hit .252 on the day. Piper controlled the majority of the match up front at the net, handing out 35 assists while also going for 12 digs and four kills.
Sophomore Gracie Staten performed admirably in the back at libero, coming up with team-high 17 digs in helping limit the Tigers to just a .167 percentage during the three frames.
The Cards now turn their attention to Hope, which has eliminated Otterbein from the NCAA's each of the past two years. The Flying Dutch defeated Webster in three sets.
"I think we're all tired of losing to Hope," Juenger said. "We always talk about this matchup and what a victory against them would mean. We will come ready to play and should have a little extra motivation."