Ohio Northern 3, Bluffton 1
#5 ONU snaps Bluffton's 10-match win streak in Founders Hall
September 16, 2009
By: Erin Neal, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - In a hard fought battle in Founders Hall, the Beavers fell to No. 5 Ohio Northern University in four sets (24-26, 25-16, 25-23, 25-17). The Beavers took the first set from the Polar Bears, only the fourth set the Bears have lost yet this season. ONU then went on to take the final three sets.
The Beavers came out strong with a relentless defensive effort and their trademark fast-paced offense to build a 10-7 lead early in set one. Sophomore outside hitter Jenna Eshleman (Landisville, Penn./Hempfield) had an outstanding offensive effort to start the match with 6 kills in set one alone. Also providing difficulties for the ONU offense was the big block provided by middle hitters Heather Rodman (Mansfield/Mansfield Christian) and Courtney Zimmerman (Leesburg/Fairfield). It was a block by Zimmerman and Eshleman that put the Beavers ahead 8-7, and the home team did not fall behind for the rest of the set. Rodman also came through with a spectacular block on All-American senior Liz Schnelle to finish off the set, 26-24.
After two quick service aces from ONU senior Renee Berry early in the second set, the Bears led by as many as 10 points before finishing out the set 25-16. Outsides Nicole Wood (Tiffin/Hopewell-Loudon) and Eshleman once again proved to be an offensive force.
In set three, the Beavers once again found themselves down 8-2, but an Eshleman kill helped to jump start the Beavers who fought back to a 16-16 tie midway through the set. This time, junior Allison Streicher (Continental) contributed a much needed offensive surge, tallying three straight kills. Tied once again at 22-22 after a kill by Wood, the Bears finally rolled on to take set three 25-23, and eventually take the match after a 25-17 finish in set four.
Although the effort was there on both sides of the net, ONU came out on top while improving to 9-1. The Beavers are now seated at 7-3. For the match, Bluffton was led offensively by Wood, who pounded 17 kills, Eshleman with 16, Streicher with 11, and Zimmerman with nine. Junior setter Shauna Rowland (Bucyrus/Wynford) dished out a well-rounded performance as she handed out 48 assists, put down four kills, and had 13 digs. The Beavers' defense was anchored by senior libero Brittany Roth (Findlay) who had 15 digs, followed by Rowland's 13, Streicher with 12, Kayla Pickering (Jamestown/Greenview) with 11, and Eshleman with 10.
The Beavers travel to Oberlin to take on the Oberlin College Yeomen next Tuesday, September 22, at 7 p.m. before travelling to HCAC rival Mt. St. Joseph for Bluffton's final tournament before conference play commences.