DC bounces Beavers to clinch first conference title for volleyball
BLUFFTON, Ohio – The Defiance College volleyball team recovered from a first-set loss to oust the arch-rival Bluffton Beavers 3-1 and secure the first conference title in the program’s history on Wednesday, October 30.
With a lot on the line in the match, DC came out flat in the opening set and was downed 16-25 by the Beavers. However, the Purple and Gold regrouped and fought through the adversity to take the next three sets by scores of 25-21, 25-23 and 25-14.
The Yellow Jackets upped their season record to 22-5 (8-0 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference), while Bluffton fell to 12-17 (4-4 HCAC). With the victory, DC solidified its eventual hosting of the conference tournament for the weekend of November 9-10.
In the first set Defiance got behind early, as the Beavers came out on fire. Bluffton was amped up for the rivalry matchup in the Sommer Center and stormed out to a 9-3 advantage.
The nerves of the Lady Jackets were noticeable, as the rowdy crowd and the big stage were in full force on the night. DC was able to chip back at the deficit and make the score 10-7 Beavers. But the Purple and Gold could not find a rhythm and Bluffton came back with a run of its own to push ahead 17-9. The home squad then went on to take set one 25-16.
With the Lady Jackets volleyball team a little rattled, head coach Brie Brenner calmed the squad down and refocused for an ever-important second set.
The two teams battled back-and-forth at the beginning of set two, as DC and Bluffton were knotted at 6-6. Fortunately, the Jackets began to capitalize on some Beaver miscues and used a couple of kills from seniors Chelsea Ludeman (Napoleon, Ohio/Napoleon) and Christa Seidenstricker (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder), along with freshman Kelsey Tietje (Deshler, Ohio/Patrick Henry) to vault ahead 19-9.
Bluffton would not go down easy though, as they responded with seven-straight points to climb back into the match 19-16. But the Purple and Gold were too much for the Beavers and they evened the game at one set apiece with a 25-21 second set victory.
With the Bluffton crowd finally settling down and the intense Yellow Jacket student section coming into play, the momentum had shifted in favor of Defiance.
DC began the third set with a hot start to go on top 7-2 and extended the advantage to 15-8 on an emphatic block by Tietje and Ludeman. But the Beavers would gnaw away at the deficit and eventually tie the set up at 22-22.
The atmosphere in the arena was electric, as the two teams were fighting for a pivotal third set, but two crucial errors by Bluffton and service ace by freshman Addison Forche’ (Swanton, Ohio/Swanton) sealed the victory for the Purple and Gold 25-23.
At that point, there was no stopping the Yellow Jackets from taking the match and clinching their first volleyball title in school history. The Beavers kept action close early on and had the match tied at 9-9.
However, Defiance would run away with the set on a 16-5 spurt that was highlighted by five kills from senior Lexy Pierce (Wauseon, Ohio/Wauseon) and a final kill by Tietje to secure the 25-14 victory and send the DC student section onto the court to celebrate the title with the volleyball team.
Asked about winning DC volleyball’s first conference championship in only her second year, Brenner said “it feels really good and the best thing about it is just seeing the girl’s growth and them listening to what us as coaches have to say and having them put it all together on the court.”
“It was an all-around effort from the team tonight,” said Brenner about the squads play in the tough rivalry game. “Bluffton brought its A-game early on and were doing a lot of things well, but we just had to keep our composure throughout the entire match and eventually take advantage of some of the errors that they normally make to come out on top tonight.”
Pierce was the top Yellow Jacket on the night, as she posted one her best matches of the season with 15 kills on a .542 attack percentage. Fellow senior Ludeman was also big with a solid outing across the stat sheet including 10 kills, five aces, five digs and five block assists.
Freshman Kelsey Tietje was crucial for DC at the defensive end with a huge night consisting of eight block assists and one solo block to go along with her seven kills. Junior Bree Anderson (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll) also chipped in with nine kills and three total blocks.
The Purple and Gold volleyball team will travel to Hanover, Ind. on Saturday, November 2 for its final match of the regular season. With the hosting of the HCAC tournament under wraps, DC will now have its eyes set on an outright conference crown with a win over the Panthers.
If it is successful, Defiance will be the first team to make it through the HCAC season undefeated since Bluffton pulled off the feat in 2009. The contest with Hanover is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.