ASHLAND, Ohio – When the AU volleyball team came from eight points down to win the third set against Northwood on Saturday (Oct. 22), it seemed the Eagles would have enough momentum to carry them through the remainder of the match.
The Timberwolves had other plans. Northwood did not trail in the fourth or fifth sets on its way to a full-length win over Ashland, 19-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-21, 15-12, at the Bennett Center in Midland, Mich.
Sophomore Baley Bernthisel (Grand Rapids, Ohio/Otsego) set a career high with 17 kills and had a .469 hitting percentage offensively to lead the Eagles, who hit a respectable .253 for the match. Bernthisel also had six block assists. Junior setter Crystal Elliott (Canal Winchester, Ohio) set a season high with 52 assists in the match.
The Eagles (10-10, 8-5 GLIAC) never trailed as they rolled through the first set. Benton and freshman Kathy Fletcher (West Chicago, Ill./Community) had three kills each for AU, which limited the Timberwolves to a .154 hitting percentage.
The second set was tightly contested with neither team able to build a large lead. After a kill by Fletcher tied the score at 17-17, the 'Wolves went on an 8-4 run to put away the set.
The teams were close in the third set, until Northwood (10-11, 8-5 GLIAC) opened up a commanding 21-13 lead. That is when the Eagles went on a run with senior Arian Martin (Independence, Ohio) serving. She laced two service aces on her run and worked the score to 21-19.
After a brief hiccup, sophomore Marci Zegarac (Lansing, Ill./South) put down a kill to make it 22-20. With Elliott serving, the Eagles scored four straight points with two straight blocks by Benton and Bernthisel and a kill by each of those players. AU finally put the set away with kills by Bernthisel and Crislip.
The fourth set was a different story for AU. The set was played tightly, but the Eagles never led. It was tied as late as 17-17, but the Timberwolves scored eight of the last 12 points in the set to send it to a decisive fifth set.
The Eagles dropped the first four points of the fifth set and never recovered.
Martin led the Eagles with 16 digs and three aces and sophomore Megan Rohlfs (Loveland, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame) added 12 digs from the AU back row.
Anna Laitinen led Northwood with 15 kills (.303) and Tatjana Rajic added 13 kills (.462). Elizabeth Barker had 19 digs and Jordan Dunn contributed 48 assists.
The Eagles will make a crucial three-match road trip next weekend, starting Friday (Oct. 28) night at nationally-ranked Hillsdale. First serve is scheduled to go up at 7 p.m. AU is also slated to play Wayne State and Findlay on the trip.