By: Jake Haubner
Wittenberg entered the NCAA tournament with championship dreams. The Tigers entered the tournament red hot on a nine game win streak, including winning the NCAC tournament without dropping a set. The team traveled to Calvin University to take on some of the best teams in the nation. The regional included teams like Calvin and Mount Union, who along with Wittenberg, are always a major presence year in and year out in Division III volleyball. The Tigers themselves entered the tournament ranked 10th nationally. The tournament is a very familiar place for the Tigers and is always poised to make a deep tournament run. The Tigers have made it to the regional championship 11 times, including the previous three years in a row.
The Tigers opened up the eight team regional Thursday afternoon versus Bluffton. The Tigers made quick work of Bluffton, winning in three sets (25-16, 25-19, 25-20). The Tigers played extremely well and were led by Kara Seidenstricker and Meghan Vodopich. Seidenstricker was red hot on the attack, finishing with 15 kills on a .500 attack percentage. Meghan Vodopich continued playing just how she did in the regular season dishing out the assists. She finished with 34 assists to go along with her five kills.
The next day the Tigers took on Chicago University, who was ranked 16th in the nation. The Tigers started off slowly against Chicago. After battling back in the first set, they ended just short, losing 30-28. The Tigers quickly rebounded winning the next three sets to take the match. The Tigers were great the whole game defensively finishing with 99 digs as a team with five people with double digit dig totals. Kiah Murray led the way with 28 digs from the libero position. Kara Seidensticker continued her dominant play in the second round of the NCAA tournament with a stat line of 22 kills, six assists, two aces, three blocks and 16 digs. Seidensticker 22 kills were a school record for a four set match. Vodopich also played well setting a career high 13 kills. The Tigers advanced to take on their rival Calvin.
Calvin came into the tournament ranked as the number one team in Division III. Calvin had only dropped one match all year. Wittenberg and Calvin is not an unfamiliar match up. The two teams have met 24 times in the last 20 years, including once earlier this year. Even more impressively, the two volleyball powerhouses have met eight times in the NCAA tournament, including four straight matchups in the regional final. The Tigers dropped the first two sets. The next two sets were intense as the Tigers tried to keep their national championships aspirations alive. The Tigers stole the third and fourth sets 25-23 and 26-24. In the final set, the Tigers fell just short. Andrea Behling played great in her final game with 22 kills on a .395 attack percentage to go along with 12 digs. Kara Seidenstircker also played phenomenal with 25 kills on a .45y attack percentages. The Tigers overall had another great season and will look forward to championship aspirations next year, only losing one senior.