NCAC volleyball teams kicked off the 2017 campaign last weekend with league teams combining for an overall record of 22-12 against non-conference teams in season-opening tournaments across the region, highlighted by No. 11 Wittenberg going 3-0 at its own National Invitational and DePauw posting a 4-0 record at Bluffton’s Sommer Center Spiketacular. League teams return to the courts this weekend with non-conference matches on the schedule on Tuesday and Wednesday, while weekend action will once again feature teams competing at early season tournaments.
ALLEGHENY went 1-3 on the opening weekend at the Mount Union Invitational, collecting a 3-0 win over Grove City on Friday to give Kelly Barzak her first-career coaching win with the Gators. The Gators have a busy home schedule in the week ahead, first hosting SUNY-Fredonia on Tuesday night, before entertaining multiple teams over the weekend for the Allegheny Gator Invitational.
DENISON kicked off its season by going 3-1 at the Mount Union Invitational under first-year head coach Carter Cassell, posting victories against SUNY-Geneseo, 3-1, Grove City, 3-0, and Alma, 3-0. Freshman Emma Woerner (Novato, CA/Novato) led the Big Red’s offense with 36 kills on the weekend, while senior libero Kristin Thewes (Dripping Springs, TX/St. Stephens Episcopal) was named to the All-Tournament Team after collecting 38 digs in three of the four matches.
DEPAUW, which appears in “The Others Receiving Votes” section of the AVCA Top-25, opened the season with a 4-0 record for the first time since 2009 after sweeping all of its matches over the weekend at Bluffton’s Sommer Center Spiketacular against Adrian, 3-1, Bluffton, 3-2, Kalamazoo, 3-0, and Heidelberg, 3-2. Junior outside hitter Suzanne Peters (Ft. Wayne, IN/Homestead) earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team after finishing the four-match stretch with 57 kills, 41 digs, four service aces and four total blocks, highlighted by a 20-kill and 25-dig performance in the win over host Bluffton.
HIRAM went 3-1 on the opening weekend of action at the Marietta River City Classic with victories against Mt. St. Joseph, 3-0, Marietta, 3-0, and West Virginia Tech, 3-2. Senior middle hitter Jess Fontana (Thompson, OH/Ledgemont) and freshman libero Lindsey Stahl (Elkhart, IL/Elkhart Memorial) were both named to the All-Tournament Team for the Terriers after finishing the weekend with 40 kills and 70 digs, respectively.
KENYON competed at the Gettysburg Battlefield Classic where the Ladies posted a 3-1 record on the opening weekend with wins over Marywood, 3-0, McDaniel, 3-1, and Gallaudet, 3-0. The Ladies’ defense was particularly strong over the four-match stretch as they held opponents to a .129 hitting percentage and notched 30 total blocks at the net. Sophomore right-side hitter Mackenzie Bruzzio (Flemington, NJ/Hunterdon Central) was named to the All-Tournament Team after finishing the weekend with 43 kills, 17 digs and 12 blocks (2 solo, 10 asst.).
OBERLIN went 2-2 at the Marietta River City Classic, picking up a pair of wins on Friday against Emory & Henry, 3-1, and Thiel, 3-0. Sophomore Lexi Mitchell (Ft. Mill, SC/Providence Day) earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team after registering 52 kills and eight service aces on the weekend, which included a 15-kill effort in the win over Thiel.
OHIO WESLEYAN posted a 1-2 record in its season-opening tournament last weekend at Ohio Northern, collecting a 3-1 win over Case on Saturday morning. Senior outside hitter Iris Anderson (Elk Grove, CA/Christian Brothers) reached the double-digit kill mark in all three matches, finishing the weekend with 43 kills and 14 hitting errors in 121 total attempts for a .240 hitting percentage, while freshman setter Molly Jewett (Eagle, CO/Eagle Valley) dished out 85 total assists in the three matches combined.
WITTENBERG, ranked 11th in the most recent AVCA Top-25, posted an impressive 3-0 mark at its own National Invitational last weekend in Springfield. The Tigers notched a pair of 3-1 wins over Illinois Wesleyan and Johns Hopkins, with the marquee win of the weekend coming on Saturday morning against No. 2 Emory by a 3-2 margin. The Tigers trailed the Eagles, 2-0, after the first two sets, but stormed back to win the final three sets by scores of 25-21, 25-16 and 15-12 to post the early season upset. Junior setter Karen Wildemann (Columbus, IN/North) was named to the All-Tournament Team after she stuffed the stat sheet over the weekend with 23 kills, 106 set assists and 29 digs, which included her first-career triple-double in the win over Emory with 11 kills, 41 set assists and 10 digs.
WOOSTER went 2-2 at the Mount Union Invitational, tallying a pair of wins on Friday against Alma, 3-0, and Grove City, 3-1. In the win over Grove City, the Scots tallied 109 total points in a four-set match, which broke the NCAC’s scoring record in a four-set match of 103 points set by Hiram against OWU in 2008. Senior Ksenia Klue (Medina, OH/Medina) was named to the All-Tournament Team after finishing the weekend with three double-double performances after totaling 52 kills and 56 digs.