Number-four ranked Tigers excelled to 3-0 on the weekend after opening at home against three top-25 teams at the annual Wittenberg Fall Classic.
The ladies in red and white took down number-eight Ithaca Bombers, 3-1, on Friday night’s Code Red event. A day later, the Tigers pounded number-14 Thomas More Saints and number-20 Ohio Northern Polar Bears, both 3-1 as well.
Playing host to seven total teams, the invitational got underway early Friday afternoon. Wittenberg holds a record of 29-5 since the Classic’s inception in 2005. Friday also marked the debut of Pam Evans Smith Arena’s fresh new court to collegiate competition.
On Friday, the ladies set a good start against the Bombers to lead 2-0 going into the third set, but took a step backward to drop the set, 21-25. The Tigers narrowly miss going into the fifth set by overcoming a five-point, set-point deficit.
The resurgence of Wittenberg in the fourth that resulted in a Tiger win was credited to a pair of Bomber errors, kills by junior Aubrey Cox and sophomore Haley Horner, and a service ace by senior Taylor Brown.
A .257 hitting percentage, compared to the opposing .161, and 13 tallied blocks by the Tigers contributed to the win. Individually, senior Karen Wildemann set a season-best mark of 44 assists in a match. Freshman and rookie Katie Hiestand slammed an impressive 15 kills on the night, followed closely by Horner with 13. It was Horner and Cox who made the defensive stand for the volleyball squad, both marking seven blocks in favor of Wittenberg.
The Tigers marked 3-1 wins against both Thomas More and Ohio Northern during their day-two matches, having dropped the third set in each.
After taking the advantage with 2-0 leads, the Tigers pounced and took care of business in set-four. The red and white moved efficiently on the court to take the last sets 25-18 and 25-13 respectively to win the matches.
Cox offered herself defensively for the team, demolishing the opposition with seven more blocks tallied against Thomas More and another nine against Ohio Northern. Wildemann snagged 33 assists in game-one on Saturday and later reset her season best to 45 assists in game two.
Offensively, four players tallied nine-plus kills against the Saints of Thomas More early on Saturday. The Tigers boasted five players with seven or more kills against Ohio Northern despite a low .128 hitting percentage later in the day. Cox and Horner led the charge on their amazing weekend, overpowering the Saints with 25 kills combined of the team’s 54 total kills.
The Tigers may receive a nod from the AVCA poll to regain their number-three national standing that was dropped last week with a loss. After turning away three nationally-ranked opponents, the red and white will likely get the bump in conjunction to another loss on the docket of reigning national champion Claremont Mudd Scripps.
Action returns to Pam Evans Smith Arena on Wednesday night, Sep. 19, against Transylvania University before marching to Oberlin on Saturday to begin the NCAC regular season.