BLUFFTON, Ohio - Defiance volleyball made the short journey to rival Bluffton for a crucial match in the hunt for a Heartland College Athletic Conference Tournament berth Wednesday evening. The Yellow Jackets left the Sommer Center with a thrilling 3-2 (21-25, 25-16, 17-25, 25-22, 15-13) victory, solidifying their place in the HCAC postseason.
After dropping a close first set 21-25, Head Coach Brie Brenner's side fought back to equal the match score at 1-1 with a 25-16 win.
With the Beavers just one set away from victory, Defiance battled through a close fourth set. With the hosts trailing by just one point, an Emma Seitz (Toledo/Central Catholic) kill set up Jessi Davis (Delta/Delta) to hit home the set-ending kill.
In the decisive fifth set, the Beavers jumped to a 4-0 lead before DC tallied four straight points to equalize. Back-and-forth action saw the rivals sitting at 13-13 with a major victory on the line. Seitz once again hit home a set from Brianna Wheeler (Sturgis, Mich./Sturgis) to push Defiance to within one point of the win. The senior then solidified the five-set victory with a block alongside Mackenzie Umbaugh (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth).
A career-high night from Davis saw her lead the way on the attack for the Purple and Gold. The senior tallied 19 kills on just 36 attacks for a .500 attacking percentage. Delaney Monnin (Defiance/Tinora) followed closely behind with 18 kills of her own.
Helping the potent Defiance offense along was Wheeler. The sophomore dished out a staggering 49 assists over the evening.
Defensively, a team effort saw five Yellow Jackets collect double-digit digs. Morgan Porter (Defiance/Defiance) topped the chart with a game-high 21. Mackenzie Benham (Marshall, Mich./Marshall) recorded her third straight match with ten or more digs as she tallied 19.
The victory sends Defiance back to the HCAC Tournament after missing out in the 2018 season. The Yellow Jackets currently sit at 16-11 overall and 4-4 in HCAC play with just one match remaining. Defiance will host Mount St. Joseph on Saturday, November 2, as the celebrate Senior Day. Action with the Lions is set to begin at 1:00 pm.