DePauw Comes Close but Can't Knock Out Top-Ranked Wittenberg

DePauw Comes Close but Can't Knock Out Top-Ranked Wittenberg

Greencastle, Ind. - DePauw had top-ranked Wittenberg on the ropes, but couldn't deliver the knockout on four match points in the fourth set and the visiting Tigers won the last three points to take that set and then hung on in the deciding fifth set to win the match 3-2 (23-25, 25-14, 18-25, 29-27, 15-13). 

In the battle of the final teams unbeaten in North Coast Athletic Conference play, DePauw dropped to 14-6 overall and 5-1 in the NCAC while Wittenberg moved to 17-0 overall and 6-0 in the league.

In the opening set, DePauw's Haley Bitzer scored her teams final three points on kills for the 25-23 win before Wittenberg evened the match with a 25-14 win in the second set after outscoring DePauw, 7-1, down the stretch.

DePauw's best hitting came in the third set in which it posted a .273 attack percentage and it turned out to be Wittenberg's worst set at .135. Wittenberg led by as many as four, but the host Tigers closed out the set on a 9-2 run to win the set, 25-18, and take a 2-1 match lead.

Wittenberg came out strong in the fourth and led by as many as six points at 15-9. DePauw still trailed 21-16 before two kills apiece from Meaghan Etling and Liv Hartman trimmed the deficit to 21-20. Wittenberg countered but DePauw evened the set at 22-22 after a block assist from Etling and Morgan Stearley.

Suzanne Peters' kill lifted DePauw to a 24-23 lead, but Aubrey Cox's kill knotted the set at 24-24. Stearley's kill put the hosts back in front before a DePauw attack error sent it to 25-25. Peters notched another kill to again put her team at match point, but Cox responded with a kill to even it at 26-26. Hartman's kill gave DePauw a 27-26 advantage and Wittenberg again responded with a kill from Maddie Fischer, block assists from Taylor Brown and Kennedy Schmidt and a set-ending kill from Haley Horner.

In the deciding fifth set, DePauw took a 2-0 lead on kills from Stearley and Peters. Wittenberg scored the next four and eventually stretched the lead to 6-3 and 7-4. The hosts evened the set at 7-7 on one kill from Peters and a pair from Bitzer.

The teams exchanged points as it would be tied four more times until Wittenberg scored four straight to take a 14-12 lead. A Wittenberg service error and another Bitzer kill drew DePauw to within 14-13, but Cox wrapped up the match with a kill.

Bitzer led the Tigers with 17 kills, while Hartman added 14. Bitzer also hit .324 for the match. Horner recorded 14 kills to lead Wittenberg and hit .407.

Keegan Kollias assisted on 55 of DePauw's 67 kills with Karen Wildmann totaling 51 for Wittenberg. Kaylee Nichols notched three aces for DePauw, while Fischer had two for the guests. Bitzer totaled seven blocks (2 solos, 5 assists) for DePauw, while Wittenberg's Schmidt (5 assists) and Cox (1 solo, 4 assists) each had five.

DePauw held a 67-65 edge in kills, while Wittenberg outhit the Tigers .206-.185. The teams each had five service aces, but DePauw had eight service errors to Wittenberg's six. Wittenberg had 102 digs to DePauw's 101 and each team finished with 11.0 team blocks.

DePauw wraps up its home season on Saturday, October 21, when it hosts Oberlin at 1 p.m. on Senior Day.