Wittenberg Destroys All Hope – And Then Some

Last weekend, women’s volleyball hosted the 2015 Wittenberg Fall Classic at Pam Evans Smith Arena. The home team showed its strength and finesse in fighting to post a record of 3-0 over two days of play.
Six teams came out for the two-day event; Hope, Ohio Northern, Heidelberg, Depauw, Trine and Otterbein joined the Tigers for the event. Over the course of the weekend, each team tested their mettle against three other teams. For Wittenberg, that meant facing Hope, Ohio Northern and Heidelberg in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.
Wittenberg coach Paco Labrador said, “The best part about the Fall Classic is that all the matches are critical for the Great Lakes Regional rankings.  Our region is the toughest in all of Division III, so every match is a big match.”
vb7And he was not kidding. Each of Wittenberg’s three wins was decidedly hard-fought.
Friday, Sept. 18, Wittenberg faced the defending National Champion team from Hope College. Regarding Hope, Wittenberg libero Kristina Fultz, ’16, said, “They’re a very good regional opponent every year. Always one of the top teams in the nation.”
About 1,250 people came out for the game. The crowd consisted of a strong mix of Wittenberg students, faculty and family, as well as the faithful visiting fans. A drum roll of stomping prefaced each Wittenberg serve, and there were calls for 2014 NCAC player of the year Kara Seidenstricker, ’16, to “drop the hammer,” which she did throughout the night on many of her 18 kills and 45 attempts.
The Tigers won the match three sets to one, with each set being won by five points or less. The third set in particular had Wittenberg rally for five points in a row and go on to win the set when they had been down at Hope’s first match point.
“It was definitely a big win for us, so we’re super excited about that. It’s also a really great regional win,” Fultz said. “We had an awesome crowd, so it was even better to win in front of so many fans.” vb6
Fultz flexed her defensive muscles to keep the ball in play for many of the match’s key volleys and would go on to post a career-high 32 digs against Ohio Northern.
On the second day of the classic, Wittenberg got off to a slow start against Ohio Northern. The Tigers narrowly won the first set before losing the second and third, despite keeping the score close. They went on to win the fourth set and forced the fifth, where they were able to seal the win.
Wittenberg’s final match of the classic, versus Heidelberg, was decided 3-1 in the Tigers’ favor to close out their solid performance in the 2015 Fall Classic.
From the first day to the second, Wittenberg setter Karen Wildemann, ’19, got more playtime and stepped up her offensive game. She racked up 65 of the Tigers’ 109 assists and showed versatility with seven kills and 27 digs of her own in the matches against Ohio Northern and Heidelberg.
For her solid play, both offensively and defensively at the net in all three matches, Tiger Emily Kahlig, ’17, was named to the classic’s All-Tournament Team.

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