Springfield, Ohio - The resilient, fourth-seeded Tigers wrapped up an incredible weekend with their first North Coast Athletic Conference Volleyball Tournament title following a 3-1 (25-19, 25-16, 18-25, 25-21) win over second-seed Denison in the championship match. The championship ended Wittenberg's run of 12 straight tourney titles dating back to 2007. DePauw improved to 18-12, while the Big Red dropped to 18-8.
With the tournament title comes the NCAC's automatic qualification into the NCAA Division III Championship. The Tigers will make their ninth overall tournament appearance, sixth in the last seventh years and fourth straight. The NCAA bracket will be released at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, November 11, on NCAA.com.
DePauw got out to a quick 2-0 lead in the opening set, but Denison gained advantages of three points on multiple occasions with the last coming at 11-8. The Tigers put together an 11-2 run and took control on the way to a 25-19 win.
Carrying that momentum into the second set, the Tigers grabbed a 5-1 lead and extended it to 12-6 before Denison called a timeout. The Big Red got no closer than five points the rest of the set as DePauw took a 2-0 lead following a 25-16 win.
An tight third set ensued with 13 ties and five lead changes before the Big Red broke free by scoring the final six points for a 25-18 victory to trim the Tigers' lead to 2-1.
Denison held leads of four points on three occasions during the fourth set and still had a 12-9 advantage before DePauw scored the next three to start a 9-3 stretch that put the Tigers in front, 18-15. DePauw extended the lead to as many as six with the final coming at 24-18 before Denison scored three straight, but a Denison attack error ended the set with DePauw winning 25-21.
Morgan Stearley, the tournament's MVP, recorded 22 kills and hit .275, while Liv Hartman added 15 kills while hitting .211. Grace Filbrun led the way with 26 assists with Kaylee Nichols and Corri Rusk each recording two aces. Nichols and Jenna Purichia had 19 digs apeince with Meaghan Etling contributing four blocks (2 solo, 2 assists). Etling and Hartman joined Stearley on the all-tournament team.
Emma Woerner and Lucy Anderson each had 11 kills for Denison with Sophie Tight totaling 35 assists. Sidney Gossard led with three aces, while Payton McElfresh had 14 digs and Anderson six blocks (1 solo, 5 assists).