Bluffton 3, #17 Oshkosh 2
November 10, 2016
By: Samantha Granger, sports information assistant
WHITEWATER, Wis. - The 2016 Bluffton University volleyball team did something no other Beaver squad had ever done on Friday, Nov. 10, when it downed #17 Wisconsin-Whitewater 3-2 in the NCAA Regionals! Bluffton went up two sets to one before needing a fifth set to nail down a first-ever NCAA Tournament victory! The Beavers improved to 24-8, while Oshkosh saw its season come to an end with a 28-8 mark.
Five straight serves from HCAC Defensive MVP Sydney Mohler (Lima/Central Catholic) helped the Beavers go up 5--2 in the lidlifter. Sophomore setter Erin Weisgarber (Bolivar/Tuscarawas Valley) served up three straight winners late in the match as Bluffton opened up a 22-12 spread and three points later, she knocked down the winner for a convincing 25-14 victory.
Oshkosh led by as many as six points (12-6) in set two, before Bluffton pulled within 20-18. The Titans scored five of the last seven counters to even up the match at 1-1.
Bluffton regained the advantage with a 25-21 win in the third set thanks to a string of seven consecutive Becca Tourney (Columbia City, Ind.) serves. A solo block by HCAC Player of the Year MacKenzie McFarlin (Ashland) sealed the victory and left the Beavers one set away from the NCAA Regional victory!
The Beavers dug a 13-6 hole in set four but they were not ready to pack it in as they worked their way back by scoring two or three points each time a Bluffton server went back to the line. A Bethany Martini (Pickerington/North) kill following Courtney Zimpfer's (Jackson Center) serve put Bluffton up 22-21 as the Beavers capped a 16-8 spurt. Bluffton had the finish line in sight, up 24-23 before the Titans forced a decisive fifth set with the 27-25 victory.
With an NCAA Regional semifinal berth on the line, neither team led by more than a point until Erin Weisgarber took her second turn at the service line and rolled off five straight points for a 14-10 lead courtesy of three straight Oshkosh hitting miscues. Two Titan timeouts could not slow the Beavers as Weisgarber connected with McFarlin for the 15-11 victory!
The service line was key to Bluffton's win as the Beavers fired six more aces (9-3) and four fewer errors (8-4). McFarlin and Tourney paced the visitors on the scoreboard with four and three aces, respectively.
Martini pounded home 16 kills to lead the Beavers, while McFarlin was right behind with 15 winners. Erin Weisgarber dished out 35 assists and hit .381 thanks to eight kills and no errors on 21 attacks.
The Bluffton defense, however, was nothing short of electric! Erin Wesgarber notched a career-high 23 digs to give the Beavers two with over 20 as Mohler tallied 22. Tourney and Zimpfer chipped in with 13 and 12, respectively, while Abby Rohrbach's (New Knoxville) 10 made it five in double figures!
Bluffton will celebrate their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory tonight as they prepare for the regional semifinal at Whitewater on Friday evening. The Beavers take on #16 Washington (Mo.) at 5:30 PM Ohio time!