Transylvania topples #6 Wittenberg in four sets in 2019 season opener

Stigger putaway

Ada, Ohio – The Transylvania volleyball team climbed near the top of the totem pole on opening night of its 2019 season and knocked down the #6 Wittenberg University Tigers, 25-17, 22-25, 26-24, 25-14 at the ONU Sports Center on the campus of Ohio Northern University on Friday evening.

The unranked Pioneers began their 2019 season accomplishing something they attempted six times in the previous season but came up short in each time: defeating a top 25 nationally-ranked team. But on Friday evening, Transylvania volleyball came out swinging and aggressive against a team which had swept the Pioneers in their lone meeting the year before and gained momentum as the evening went on in defeating the Tigers.

The upset of the Tigers marks the first time the Pioneers have defeated a top 25 team during the four-year run of the Pioneers' current senior class and the first time Transylvania has accomplished the feat in the Amy Barmore era.

Refreshed and powered up for a new season, the Pioneers began the 2019 campaign by grabbing a decisive set one victory against the nationally-ranked Tigers, winning 25-17. The Pioneers were practically perfect in the first set, registering 15 kills against no errors for a .577 hitting percentage.

Wittenberg answered back for its only set victory in the second set as the Tigers built an early 10-5 lead. The Pioneers showed off their mental mettle, gradually digging away at the deficit until tying up the set on a big putaway from Ellie Stigger to make it a 22-all game. Following a timeout, Wittenberg recovered to score three straight points for the 25-22 set win.

The Pioneers fought their way to victory in a dramatic third set. After breaking from the Tigers at 5-4, the Pioneers grew a 21-17 lead after a Wittenberg error. This time, it was Wittenberg's turn to make a late charge as it erased a 24-20 deficit to score four straight points. But the Pioneers wrote the final script in the third set as Jordan Horne came up with a clutch kill and Wittenberg committed an error to terminate the third set, 26-24 in favor of the Pioneers.

The fourth set belonged to Transylvania as the Pioneers grew a 10-5 lead off a kill from Emmie Bender and never looked back. The Pioneers outscored the Tigers 15 to 8 to wrap up the match for a 1-0 start to the season.

Stigger led the Pioneers with 14 kills while Hannah Talkers put up 36 assists and a match-high 17 digs. Horne led the team in blocks with five and joined Stigger in double-digit kills with 10 on the night. Taryn Glass added eight kills as the Pioneers amassed 52 kills to 28 by the Tigers.

Transylvania will attempt to top tonight's performance by taking on the No. 2 ranked team in the country, the Calvin College Knights, which finished last season as the national runner-up, tomorrow at 1 p.m. at ONU Sports Center. The Pioneers will also take on the host team, Ohio Northern University, which begins the season ranked 23rd in the country, following their match against Calvin.

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