The league portion of the NCAC volleyball schedule kicked off last weekend with DePauw, Kenyon, Ohio Wesleyan and Wittenberg all opening the slate with conference wins. Through the first four weeks of action, all nine NCAC squads own overall records of .500 or better, which includes a trio of 11-win squads in Wittenberg (11-0), Hiram (11-5) and Wooster (11-7). There are four conference matches on the schedule this week, led by Wittenberg hosting Ohio Wesleyan on Friday night.
ALLEGHENY split a pair of matches last week, defeating Pitt.-Bradford, 3-0, at home on Wednesday, before falling by a 3-0 count at Kenyon on Saturday. Over the course of the week, senior middle hitter Leah Franzluebbers (Wethersfield, CT/East Catholic) accumulated 22 kills, while classmate Terra Schall (Kittanning, PA/Kittanning) led the defense with 37 digs.
DENISON suffered a 3-0 non-conference loss against Heidelberg on Tuesday, before dropping a narrow 3-2 decision at DePauw on Saturday. Senior middle hitter Leah Reinfranck (Northbrook, IL/Glenbrook North) topped the 20-kill mark for first time this season in the loss against DePauw, finishing the match with 20 kills and just five hitting errors for a .341 hitting percentage.
DEPAUW opened NCAC play with a 3-2 home win over Denison. Junior outside hitter Suzanne Peters (Ft. Wayne, IN/Homestead) paced the Tigers with 17 kills, while senior libero Emily Beckes (Cincinnati, OH/Cincinnati Christian Acad.) had team highs of 29 digs and three aces.
HIRAM dropped a pair of matches last week, first falling to Mt. Union, 3-1, in non-conference action, before suffering a narrow 3-2 loss at Ohio Wesleyan. In the five-set thriller against OWU, freshman outside hitter Kayla Cole (Louisville, OH/Louisville) posted her third double-double of the season with 17 digs and 13 kills.
KENYON lost a hard-fought 3-1 decision at No. 22 Ohio Northern, but the Ladies bounced back with a straight-set victory over Allegheny on Saturday. Senior setter Jensen Shurbert (Santa Cruz, CA/Pacific Collegiate) filled up the stat sheet last week with 66 set assists and 17 digs. She now ranks fourth in program history with 2,525 career set assists.
OBERLIN turned in a 1-2 record last week, opening with a 3-1 win over John Carroll, before dropping a pair of 3-0 matches on Saturday in Springfield, Ohio, against No. 1 Wittenberg and Muskingum. The Yeowomen offense was in rhythm against JCU as senior Dana Thomas (Cincinnati, OH/Summit Country Day) and the sophomore duo Lexi Mitchell (Ft. Mill, SC/Providence Day) and Maura Gibbs (Wallingford, PA/Strath Haven) combined for 47 kills, while sophomore Samantha Lam (Daly City, CA/San Francisco Univ.) dished out a career-best 51 assists.
OHIO WESLEYAN knocked off Hiram, 3-2, in its only match last week. Senior outside hitter Brianna La Croix (Woodland Hills, CA/Sierra Canyon) had five kills in the fourth set to help force the winner-take-all fifth set, while junior right-side hitter Lauren Carpenter (North Hollywood, CA/North Hollywood) and senior outside hitter Iris Anderson (Elk Grove, CA/Christian Brothers) contributed four kills apiece in the fifth set to secure the conference win for the Bishops.
WITTENBERG, the nation’s top-ranked team in the AVCA Top-25, scored a pair of home wins on Saturday against Oberlin, 3-0, and Muskingum, 3-1. Three different Wittenberg players notched double-digit kills in the win over Muskingum, led by senior outside hitter Maddie Fischer (Minerva, OH/Minerva) crushing 18 kills against just three hitting errors for a .417 hitting percentage.
WOOSTER continued to prep for NCAC play with four non-conference matches last weekend at the Carnegie Mellon DoubleTree Invitational. The Scots dropped both matches on Friday against Mount Union, 3-0, and Messiah, 3-1, before splitting their matches on Saturday with a 3-0 win over Geneva and a 3-1 loss against Otterbein. The Scots averaged nearly 2.5 blocks per set on the weekend, led by junior Ashley Plassard (Painesville, OH/Riverside) posting a team-high 22 (5 solo, 17 asst.), which included a game-high eight blocks against Mount Union.