Grand Rapids, Mich. – The DePauw volleyball team defeated Carnegie-Mellon 3-1 (25-20, 25-20, 21-25, 25-20) in a four-versus-five seed matchup Thursday in the first round of the 2016 NCAA women's volleyball championship.
After starting the game in a 5-0 hole, coach Deb Zellers was forced to burn a time out, but DePauw took momentum from there, capturing their first lead at 13-12 before taking the first two sets.
"It was really nice to see our team come out strong," senior Elisabeth Wilson said. "I think in the last couple weeks we've been working really hard on starting games strong and really pushing to the end. We had to battle a little bit there, but to start this tournament strong that's the momentum we're carrying through to our next game."
Wilson was one of five DePauw players who had double-digit kills on the night. Suzanne Peters led the team with 14 followed by 12 from Morgan Stearley and Gabi Allread and 10 from Wilson and Haley Bitzer.
DePauw had a .239 kill percentage compared to Carnegie Mellon's .145 percentage.
Keegan Kollias led the team with 50 assists and 24 digs. Bitzer led all players with four block assists.
Serving was a bit of an issue with 11 service errors, which helped contribute to their third set loss, but DePauw put up seven service aces, including two from Wilson to close the second set.
"We've had a resiliency this year that few teams that I've coached have had, so we had to find that in that match and we did," Zellers said.
The youthfulness may have caught up with the team in the third set, but Zellers knew how to get them back on track and to take the fourth set for the match.
"My focus was trying to break down what was happening on the court and getting them to realize a lot of the points Carnegie Mellon was scoring on was our errors," Zellers said. "It was a battle, but we live another day which is the most important and exciting part."
Carnegie-Mellon (25-8), ranked 21st in the latest AVCA Coaches poll, was led by Jackie Gibbons' 14 kills and Emily Newton's 33 assists.
DePauw improves to 25-5 and will face second-ranked Calvin (28-1) at 7 p.m. Friday. Calvin defeated Pitt.-Bradford in straight sets (25-10, 25-14, 25-17).
No matter what happens, sophomore Suzanne Peters is just happy her experience isn't over just yet.
"It's my first time being here," she said, "and it's been so fun just hanging out with the team . . . playing like that makes me excited to go and play again tomorrow."