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2015 ONU volleyball OAC preview

Ashley Borchers #7, sets the ball to her teammate to spike over the net. (photo/Sam Pontarolo)

The Ohio Northern volleyball team looks to challenge for the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) title and a return trip to the NCAA DIII Tournament in 2015.

The Polar Bears are led by a talented group of seniors, with All-Conference left side hitter Ellie Gillespie being a key factor.

“I would have to say the biggest thing I want to improve on is having more consistency between different games and limiting the amount of errors I have in a game,” Gillespie stated. “I think we have a really good team that can go really far this year.”

Gillespie’s team-first mindset has made strides for the future of ONU Volleyball. “I want to accomplish an OAC championship and go back to the NCAA tournament, getting Ohio Northern volleyball back to where it should be.”

Under 25th-year head coach Kate Witte, the Polar Bears feature a talented and experienced roster.

Witte and her staff welcomed back five starters and nine letter-winners from last year's squad that posted a 19-10 record and finished fifth in the OAC with a 6-3 mark.

In an interview with, Witte said, "we have experience and depth at every position on the floor. We expect to have a balanced offensive attack and could be very good on defense.”

Still early on in the season, the Polar Bears have proved to be able to do just that. The team of girls has started off the season 14-4 in inter-conference play, currently ranked 25th in the nation.

Junior Claire Heitkamp discussed what she thought her team's biggest challenge will be going into conference play:

“I think our toughest challenge will be adversity. Every team faces adversity at some point in the season, but it's how a team responds that tells the fate of the team. I hope that when our team is met with challenges, we can overcome the struggles and grow from them. I hope that we can accept whatever happens and use it as fuel to become a better and stronger team.”

Looking to capture their first OAC title since 2009, the team that coach Witte has assembled is poised for a big year. The No. 25-ranked Ohio Northern volleyball team ran its winning streak to seven matches with a victory at area-rival Defiance on Tuesday night.

The Polar Bears will kick off their OAC season at home on October 3 against John Carroll at 1 pm.

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