Tiffin, Ohio – November 4, 2009 – The 2009 Ohio Athletic Conference Volleyball Tournament Championship will be decided on the campus of Heidelberg University this weekend, Nov. 6-7. The tournament will take place in Seiberling Gymnasium.
Heidelberg won the program’s second regular season title, and coupled with a quarterfinal win over Muskingum University, earned the number one seed and the right to host the final four. The Berg will be joined by no. 2 Mount Union College, no. 3 Ohio Northern University and no. 4 Otterbein College.
Ohio Northern is the defending tournament champion. Since 1984, the Polar Bears have won 17 tournament titles, including the last three-consecutive, and six out of the last eight. No other semifinal participant this year has won the postseason crown. ONU and the Berg have battled in the OAC Championship the last two years.
ONU and Mount Union square off in semifinal one on Friday beginning at 5:00 p.m., followed by the Berg and Otterbein at approximately 7:00 p.m. The winner of the tournament will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Volleyball Championship. A season ago, ONU represented the OAC by virtue of an automatic bid, and were joined by Heidelberg and Muskingum University, who earned an at-large bid.
Admission for Friday’s semifinals is $8.00 for adults and $2.00 for non-OAC students. Championship Saturday tickets are $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for non-OAC students. OAC students are free with their student identification card.
Heidelberg, ranked 19th in the nation, found its way into a semifinal match after downing no. 8 Muskingum 3-0 (25-9, 25-13, 25-15). The win improved the Berg to 26-6 overall and also marked 10th-year head coach Jason Miller’s 200th head coaching victory. For his career, Miller owns a career record of 200-139. The Berg is making its 19th appearance in the OAC Tournament and its third-consecutive trip to the semifinals. It is the first time that the Berg has the privilege of hosting the tournament and has been seeded number one.
A versatile line up has paid dividends for the Berg in 2009. Freshman Jacki Street leads the way with a .311 attack percentage and 70 blocks, while standing third with 236 kills. Fellow classmate Marian Bevington is second with 69 blocks. Junior Brittany Donelan leads the defense with 609 digs followed by sophomores Jackie Reinhart and Venessa Haase with 437 apiece. Haase leads the pack with a single-season record 78 aces and 332 kills. Senior All-American setter Morgan Magers has dished out 1,232 assists on the year and has eclipsed 5,000 for her career, marking just the third player ever in the OAC to do so. Senior Amanda Atchison adds depth with the Berg hitters, standing second with 329 kills.
Under the guidance of fourth-year head coach Leigh Ann Matesich, Mount Union is playing in its 20th overall, 13th-straight, OAC Tournament. The Purple Raiders (22-5) have previously participated in the OAC Tournament in 1984-85, 91-95, 97-2008. Mount Union is 13-19 all-time in OAC Tournament play, finished runner-up in 1999 and has been knocked out in the semifinals each of the last three seasons. A spot in this year’s semifinal was earned by sweeping no. 7 seed Marietta College (25-23, 25-20, 25-17).
Leading the way for the Purple Raiders is senior Sarah Parker with a .400 attack percentage, while standing second with 251 kills. Fellow senior and All-American Melissa Mahnke has a team-best 317 kills and 27 service aces. Mahnke is Mount Union’s career kills leader with over 1,500. Sophomore Leah Hirsch controls the net with 66 blocks, while junior Sarah Dean and Mahnke have 503 and 329 digs, respectively.
The Polar Bears of ONU are making their 26th appearance in the OAC Tournament and made it to the semifinal with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-11) win over no. 6 seed John Carroll University. In tournament action, Ohio Northern has a 52-8 record from 1984-2009. Under the tutelage of 18th-year head coach Kate Witte, Ohio Northern is currently ranked sixth in the nation and owns an overall record of 26-3. Two of its setbacks have been at the hands of OAC foes Heidelberg and Mount Union. In her time in Ada, Witte has led ONU to an impressive 514-155 mark.
Senior All-American Liz Schnelle leads the way with 443 kills, a .373 attack percentage and 60 blocks. She ranks third in service aces with 29. Junior Abby Schaller and senior Renee Barry back Schnelle with 219 and 211 kills, respectively. Setting up the hitters is freshman Kelsie Zumberger with 794 assists. Schaller leads the way with 96 service aces. The back row is paced by sophomore Kasey Roeser with 608 digs followed by Berry (368) and Decima (202).
The Cardinals of Otterbein have made the biggest jump in the league standings from a season ago. In 2008, Otterbein finished at 9-23 and found a spot as the eight seed in the tournament. In 2009 roles have been reversed, as the Cardinals own an overall record of 24-8 and found its way into the tournament as the number four seed. Under the guidance of third-year head coach Monica McDonald Otterbein is making its 13th appearance in the OAC Tournament and own a record of 2-12. The Cardinals earned a spot in the semifinals with a 3-2 (25-10, 25-18, 23-25, 19-25, 15-10) win over no. 4 seed Capital University. Otterbein previously made it to the postseason tournament in 1984-85, 1994, 1998, 2000-06 and in 2008.
Sitting atop the team with a .397 hitting percentage and 372 kills is freshman Ally Nagle. Junior Rayna Coleman and freshman Kelly Montgomery back Nagle with 247 and 162 kills, respectively. Controlling the setting duties is the duo of senior Marinda Roderick (601 assists) and freshman Lydia Wynkoop (533 assists). Defensively Nagle and senior Leah Yoder have combined for 183 blocks, while sophomore Lindsey Russell leads the back row with 759 digs.