By Dan Sabol
The Wittenberg Volleyball team won games Friday and Saturday to advance to the National Championship match against Christopher Newport. The Tigers swept both matches 3-0 and this championship appearance will be the first in the program’s history. Wittenberg seems to be flourishing in the Tournament, as neither match seemed to give them too much trouble. They are also the highest ranked team remaining in the tournament.
On Friday, the Tigers faced off against California Lutheran University, the 17th ranked team in the country. However, the 5th ranked Tigers were not intimidated as they only trailed once in the entire match, winning 3 sets to none.
The precise passing of the two setters, junior Hallie Donathan and freshman Meghan Vodopich, set the stage for the dominating win as each recorded 16 assists. Senior Kimmie Dyer led the Tigers with 10 kills in 18 attempts, and fellow seniors Katie Sumner and Hannah Riley added 8 and 7 kills respectively. The win allowed the Tigers to advance to the programs 4th national semifinal appearance, and first since 2007.
On Saturday, Wittenberg matched up with Eastern University, a team that came in ranked 4th nationally. This was a matchup of the two highest ranked teams remaining in the tournament. However, Eastern provided little resistance as the Tigers again prevailed 3-0, winning by scores of 25-21, 25-13, and 25-19.
Donathan and Vodopich were once again a dominating force, combining for 35 assists. Eastern University featured an All-American libero; but, Wittenberg junior libero Christina Gilene was not intimidated as she ended up with a match high of 18 digs. Dyer led the hitters with 11 kills and 10 digs in support of Gilene. After a close first set the Tigers really took control and coasted to win the final two games. The Tigers were finally able to advance to the championship game after 3 consecutive semi-final exits from 2005-07.
The Tigers went on to play sixth ranked Christopher Newport on Sunday night in the championship game but unfortunately the coverage was not available at press time. The tournament was an impressive one for Wittenberg, who had to defeat number one ranked Calvin on the road in order to make it to St. Louis.
Editor’s Update: Congratulations to the Wittenberg Women’s Volleyball team, who defeated Christopher Newport in three straight sets on Sunday night. This made them NCAA National Champions. Regrettably, more information was not available at press time.
(Dan Sabol / email@example.com)