Westerville, Ohio - DePauw rallied from a 2-0 deficit to even its NCAA Division III Championship first-round match with 20th-ranked Ohio Northern and pushed the Polar Bears to the brink before falling 3-2 (19-25, 19-25, 25-17, 27-25, 15-17).
The Tigers finished the season at 20-8, while Ohio Northern improved to 28-5 and advanced to the second round.
After dropping the first two sets, DePauw never trailed in the third while hitting .394 to trim the Ohio Northern lead to 2-1. The Tigers fell behind early in the fourth, but put together a 4-0 run. DePauw held a 24-22 advantage before the Polar Bears won the next three to reach match point. DePauw, however, forced the fifth set by winning the next three.
Ohio Northern grabbed a 5-3 lead in the deciding fifth set, but DePauw rallied with four straight to take a 7-5 advantage. The Polar Bears' next lead came at 9-8 before kills from Liv Hartman and Meaghan Etling and an ace served by Keegan Kollias put the Tigers ahead, 11-9. Ohio Northern scored five of the next six to again reach match point at 14-12, but consecutive kills from Morgan Stearley evened the set at 14-14.
The teams traded points before the Polar Bears won the match with back-to-back kills.
Suzanne Peters led DePauw with 20 kills, while Hartman followed with 16 and Stearley 14. Stealey hit .289 for the match. Chelsea Huppert paced Ohio Northern with 17 kills followed by McKenna Jordan with 16 and Haley Potters with 15.
Kollias assisted on 45 of the Tigers' 66 kills, while Katie Wade had 51 assists that helped the Polar Bears to 62 kills.
Peters paced DePauw with 25 digs and three service aces, while Megan Nieszala had 25 digs for Ohio Northern and five aces. The Polar Bears held a 106-100 edge in digs for the match.
Hartman, Etling and Haley Bitzer each had three blocks for the Tigers, while Huppert totaled five (2 solo, 3 assist) for Ohio Northern.