Tigers rally to defeat Big Red in final sets

Emma Woerner  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Emma Woerner | Photo by Jace Delgado

GRANVILLE, Ohio – Despite taking the first set of the match, 25-23, Denison volleyball fell to DePauw University 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 19-25, 19-25) on Saturday afternoon at Livingston Gymnasium in Granville, Ohio.

With both sides opening their North Coast Athletic Conference schedule, the Big Red looked to be in full control during the first set after kills from Emma Woerner and Payton McElfresh put DU in front, 15-13.

Kills from Morgan Stearley and Grace Filbrun allowed the Tigers to take a 19-17 lead, but six-consecutive points from the Big Red and a set-ending kill from McElfresh gave Denison the first set of the match, 25-23.

DU kept the momentum on their side in the second set with five-straight points to open the frame, including three from Woerner and junior Alex Tubbs. Denison's advantage would increase to 19-15, but DePauw answered with the set's final 10 points on six kills from Liv Hartman and a service ace from Sarah Herman to even the sets at 1-1.

Following DePauw's win in the second set, the Tigers opened the final frame with a 12-2 lead, forcing a DU timeout. Following the timeout, DU received a spark off of kills from McElfresh and freshman Olivia Burnside, along with service ace from Marija Pavlick, to give the Big Red 12 of the next 15 points and only trail the Tigers by one, 15-14.

With Denison trailing 22-19 toward the end of the set, DePauw tallied the final three points of the set and secured the match for their seventh win of the season. The loss dropped DU to 5-6 on the year.

The Big Red were led by double-digit kills from Woerner (15), McElfresh (10), and senior Isabella Pivec (10), while senior Julia Miller paced DU with 42 of the team's 47 assists. McElfresh also tied for the match-lead with 25 digs, while Tubbs tallied nine kills, five blocks, and a .348 hit percentage.

DePauw's Hartman finished with a match-high 24 kills and a .375 hit percentage, while Filbrun recorded 51 assists to lead both sides. Stearley totaled 25 digs and Jenna Purichia ended the day with 20.

The Big Red will continue their three-match homestand on Tuesday, September 25 for a 7 p.m. start with Muskingum before they host Earlham College on Wednesday, September 26 at 7 p.m.