WESTERVILLE, Ohio—#3 Wittenberg women's volleyball opened NCAA Regional play against Penn State Behrend on Friday afternoon, as the Tigers disposed of the Lions in decisive fashion 3-0. Wittenberg controlled the pace in a match that lasted 59 minutes, as the Tigers won in straight sets 25-10, 25-17 and 25-11. Wittenberg improved to 23-2 overall in 2017, but more importantly, the Tigers advanced to the second round of the regional, as the Tigers will face #19 Juniata tomorrow at 2:30PM. In their 23rd NCAA tournament appearance, the Tigers have advanced to the second round for the 18th time. Wittenberg's win over PSUB moves the Tigers to 15-5 all-time in the first round of NCAA tournament play, not including three first round byes.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Wittenberg jumped out to a 18-7 lead in the first set after back-to-back points off kills from Taylor Brown. Gabi Hancock came up big down the stretch for the Tigers in the first set, as the freshman recorded kills on the 23rd and 24th point of the match, as well as a key block on the Tigers 22nd point. With a 24-9 lead, Karen Wildemann recorded a kill on an overpass for the final point of the first set. With a 1-0 lead in the match, the Tigers jumped out to a 6-1 lead after a Maddie Fischer kill. PSUB would get as close as 16-13, as the Tigers would pull away at 20-15, and finally at 25-17. Haley Horner entered in the third set for Wittenberg, quickly prompting a PSUB timeout. Out of the timeout, a Horner kill led to the Tigers cruising to leads of 17-6, 18-9, and 22-11 before Brown helped record the last four points of the match, including the final point on an ace.
WHO STOOD OUT: Fischer paced the Tigers with nine kills, while Aubrey Cox chipped in eight, and Brown seven. Wildemann dished out assist after assist on Friday afternoon, as the junior recorded 31 for the match. Wildemann also recorded four digs and seven kills in the match. Fischer slugged a .444 K%, while Kennedey Schmidt totaled six kills on 13 total attacks for a .385 K%. Wildemann also got it done from the service line for the Tigers, totaling three of Wittenberg's seven service aces on Friday afternoon.
WHAT'S IT MEAN: Coach Labrador and his team now shift focus to the #19 ranked team in the country, Juniata, who defeated Brockport 3-1 earlier on Friday afternoon. The Tigers and Eagles have met 24 times in both school's history, as the all-time series stands at 13-11 in favor of Juniata. The Tigers and Eagles met a year ago in Springfield, as Wittenberg won in straight sets 3-0. Fischer paced the Tigers with 12 kills in the 2016 match. DeAnna Ortiz-Whittemore paced the Eagles against Brockport earlier on Friday, recording 12 kills, while Jamie Schlesinger chipped in 11. A win over Juniata tomorrow at 2:30PM would propel the Tigers to the Regional Championship match for the 14th time in school history, as the Tigers currently own a 7-6 overall record in the round. The last time the Tiger's advanced to the regional championship was 2015, a season that saw the Tigers make a run all the way to the National Championship match.
UP NEXT: Links for live stats and video will be provided by Otterbein University, but can also be found on the women's volleyball schedule on Wittenbergtigers.com.