TIFFIN, Ohio—The No. 6 Heidelberg University volleyball team will look to clinch at least a share of its third straight Ohio Athletic Conference regular season championship, secure home court advantage throughout the OAC tournament and extend its winning streak to 17 consecutive matches Friday, Oct. 21 when it plays Marietta College in an OAC match at Ban Johnson Arena in Marietta, Ohio. Live stats for the match will be available at http://www.sidearmstats.com/marietta/wvball/.
The Berg, 24-2 overall and 7-0 in the OAC following a sweep of John Carroll University on Tuesday (Oct. 18) (25-10, 25-17, 25-19), has won 16 straight matches dating back to Sept. 17 and 48 of its last 52 sets. Junior second-team All-OAC outside hitter Marian Bevington (Celina/Parkway) led the Tri-Color in that match, tallying a match-high 11 kills and blocking four Blue Streak attacks.
A win against Marietta will clinch at least a share of the OAC regular season crown and guarantee Heidelberg home court advantage throughout the OAC tournament. The University of Mount Union (19-6, 5-1 OAC) and Otterbein University (21-4, 6-1 OAC) enter this weekend’s matches in a virtual tie for second place in the conference standings with one loss each, but the Berg would hold the advantage in any tie-breaking scenario, having beaten both teams earlier this season.
Bevington leads the team with 278 kills and is fourth in the OAC with 2.78 kills per set, while hitting .376 to rank second in the conference. Four of the squad’s remaining five starters have at least 150 kills on a team that leads the league with a .285 hitting percentage.
Junior setter Rachel Ferguson (Brighton, Mich./Brighton) and sophomore setter Alexa Frank (Tiffin/Calvert) will set the offense. Ferguson’s team-high 462 assists over 71 sets ranks eighth in the OAC at 3.28 assists per set, while Frank’s 293 assists are second on the team.
Defensively, Bevington is second in the league with 1.12 blocks per set and leads the team with 81 stops. Freshman libero Tessa Benanzer (Fort Loramie) and senior reigning OAC player of the year Jackie Reinhart (New Riegel) will handle the bulk of the team’s reception. Benanzer is eighth in the league in digs, averaging 4.67 per set, while Reinhart is 10th with a 3.97 dps. average.
Marietta enters the contest 13-11 overall and 4-2 in the OAC to sit in fourth place in the league standings. Paige DeVrient leads the Pioneer attack, averaging 2.47 kills per set, while Laure Mauer will set the offense. Mauer is fifth in the conference, averaging 8.67 assists per set. Defensively, Jen Braun, who has an OAC-leading 57 service aces, averages 5.06 digs per set, while Kathryn Hanssen and Natalie Lanham lead the team with 67 blocks each.
In addition to Friday’s match at Marietta, the Berg will play Thiel (Pa.) College and Pitt – Bradford at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively, on Saturday, Oct. 21 in Marietta. Heidelberg defeated Thiel, 3-0, on Sept. 3 in its fourth match of the season.
The Berg has won 19 straight matches against conference opponents dating back to last season and is a perfect 6-0 record in true road contests and 19-2 away from home in 2011.
Heidelberg returns home next week to host OAC rival Ohio Northern University on Tuesday, Oct. 25 in its final home regular season match of the season.