VB: Berg strides to victory on senior day

Photos courtesy of Mason Hainey
Photos courtesy of Mason Hainey

TIFFIN -- The streamers were flying inside of a decorated Seiberling Gymnasium as the Heidelberg University volleyball team bagged a crucial OAC victory on senior day.

Seniors Sydney Moore, Morgan Strenk, Taylor Arbogast, Katie Keegan, and Laura Schrag were honored with their families before the match for their contributions to the Heidelberg Volleyball program over the past four seasons. The ladies will forever be apart of Heidelberg volleyball history with their participation and contributions on the 2015 OAC Regular Season and Tournament Championship team.

With the victory, Heidelberg (19-8, 5-3) will look to fight for home court advantage in the first round of the OAC tournament on the road this Saturday at Muskingum. John Carroll moves to 15-12, 2-6 in the conference with the loss.

The seniors definitely got involved early and often on their day. In a rare occasion, Schrag found herself serving early in the first set, on a play capped by a Keegan kill. After a brief side-out, Morgan Strenk caught fire briefly, smashing three consecutive kills to re-establish control for the Student Princes.

John Carroll made things interesting across the first set, consistently pecking away at the Berg lead. A late run of 6 unanswered points by JCU got them back into the match. Eventually, after a late timeout, a kill by Taylor Valentine capped the set by a score of 25-23.

Across the first set, Strenk, Keegan, and Schrag combined for 10 of the Student Princes' 16 kills, while Arbogast and Moore chipped in six of the Berg digs.

The second set was much of a back-and-forth. With John Carroll in control 18-11, Heidelberg called a timeout. A kill by Amy Feczer led to two quick service aces by Anna McNabb and two JCU attack errors, forcing the Blue Streaks into a timeout of their own with the score 18-16.

McNabb continued on her service rally by making a diving dig under the net that found its way up and over the net to the back corner, tying the match at 18-18. Her 11 straight serves were broken up by a JCU kill by Cassi Calamunci.

A blistering 10 point back-and-forth by both sides eventually led to John Carroll taking the set 29-27. Again, the seniors were heavily involved in the second set with the hitters contributing 10 more total kills. Arbogast and Moore tallied a combined 13 digs during the frame.

As if it wasn't already known, the third set proved to be yet another teeter-totter of a set with both sides exchanging points at will early on. A string of errors and a couple of nice kills by Strenk and Schrag led to Heidelberg pulling away with the set. John Carroll used a timeout with the score 21-17 in favor of the Berg.

The Blue Streaks came out of the stoppage, ready to fight, adding five points, forcing the Student Princes into a timeout of their own at 24-22. The respite proved to be what they needed, ending the set on a kill by Alyssa Crusey.

Once more, the three senior hitters smashed nine kills across the set, while the back row seniors added nine combined digs in the third frame.  

The fourth set was much more in Heidelberg's control, as they dominated the set, taking the final frame by a score of 25-13. Feczer and Valentine came alive in the set combining for nine kills. The match was polished off by a service ace by senior Morgan Strenk.

Overall, the Student Princes had a solid night on the court. Strenk, Schrag, and Valentine each reached double-digit kills -- hitting 19, 14, and 15 respectively. Schrag also sent back six total blocks. McNabb continued to be active in facilitating the offense racking up 60 assists, and even chipping in 16 digs.

On the back line, Arbogast led the team in digs with 25. Moore contributed 11 of her own. She now stands just 19 shy of hitting the 1,000 career dig mark. Strenk also hit double-digit digs with 10.

The seniors will cap off their regular season careers on Saturday in a tri-match at Muskingum University. They will play the Muskies in a critical OAC contest at noon before taking on Hiram College at 2 p.m. The Muskingum match will have strong implications on the Berg's final OAC seedings leading into tournament play next week.