NEW CONCORD, Ohio -- The Heidelberg University volleyball team swept Muskingum University in the opening round of the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament on Tuesday. In doing so, the fifth-seeded Student Princes avenged a regular season loss to the fourth-seeded Muskies, winning 25-20, 25-19, 28-26. Heidelberg (17-11) advances to face No. 1 seed Otterbein University on Thursday.
Anna McNabb tallied her 1,000th assist of the season in the opening set and finished with an even 30 on the night. A trio of Student Princes tallied 11+ kills -- Morgan Strenk (15), Rachel Stroski and Taylor Valentine (11 each).
Rachel Raimondo, who registered her 2,000th career dig in Saturday's win at Wilmington, had a game-high 30 digs. Valentine notched 18 and Taylor Arbogast added 12. With 11 kills and 18 digs, Valentine tallied her seventh double-double of the campaign.
At the net, Jordann Gudorf had three blocks.
Strenk paced The Berg at the onset with three straight kills as HU built a 6-2 lead in the first. For a majority of the first set, the Student Princes held a comfortable edge. Head Coach Jason Miller did use a timeout after a three-point run by the hosts cut the HU lead to 16-13. After the break, Strenk recaptured the momentum with two kills.
The second set started similarly to the first set, with Stroski doing the heavy lifting for the Tricolor. After attack woes allowed the Muskies to get to within one, HU was able to rebuild a comfortable lead.
With an energetic crowd cheering them on, the Muskies hung tough in the third set. With the score knotted at 16, MU forced Miller into a timeout after rattling off four straight points. The Muskies led 23-19 and 24-22. A Strenk kill and a Muskie error sent the third set into extra points. In all, HU withstood three set points before kills Valentine and Gudorf sealed the match.
Heidelberg will visit Otterbein at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the semifinals. On the other side of the bracket, Ohio Northern beat Marietta and Mount Union defeated Baldwin Wallace. The Polar Bears will host the Purple Raiders in Ada. Saturday's championship match will take place at the highest remaining seed.
OAC Tournament ticket prices remain in effect: $8 for adults, $6 for seniors (62) and $3 for non-OAC students. OAC students are admitted free of charge with valid ID.
This marks the third-straight OAC semifinal appearance for Miller and company.