TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - For the second time this season, it took five exciting sets of volleyball to split Defiance College and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. After a meeting in early October, Defiance once again made the trip to west-central Indiana, this time for the opening round of HCAC Tournament action. The Fightin' Engineers' prevailed by a 3-2 (25-20, 21-25, 15-25, 25-15, 15-12) margin in the postseason affair.
With a trip to Transylvania for the semi-finals of the 2019 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament on the line, the sides immediately locked in a tight battle. The first set saw the score come down to just five points as the hosts took the opener.
Defiance looked to retaliate in the second set as a Jessi Davis (Delta/Delta) pushed the Yellow Jackets to an early 9-4 advantage. Despite Rose closing the gap, a solo block from Mackenzie Umbaugh (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth) sparked a four-point run that saw DC wrap up the second set victory.
With momentum on their side, Defiance quickly pushed for an advantage. A stretch of Morgan Zang (Independence, Ky./Calvary Christian) service points that included a Davis kill, an ace from the junior, and a kill by Delaney Monnin (Defiance/Tinora), had the Yellow Jackets up 12-5. Impressive defense saw the hosts reach just 15 points as Defiance concluded the set with another four-point run with Zang at the service line.
Rose was able to flip the script in the fourth set of action as the Fightin' Engineers prevailed 25-15 to send the opening round matchup to a decisive fifth set.
Slim margins saw the sides trade blows in the final set of action. Despite an early DC lead, Rose battled back to take a slight advantage. An emphatic block from Emma Seitz (Toledo/Central Catholic) and Mackenzie Benham (Marshall, Mich./Marshall) had the Yellow Jackets trailing just 14-12 before Rose was able to tally the match-ending kill.
The season finale saw Monnin lead the way on the attack as the sophomore recorded 18 kills. Benham followed with 14 winners of her own, while Davis concluded her career with an 11 kill performance. Brianna Wheeler (Sturgis, Mich./Sturgis) broke the 1,000 season assists mark with her 35 helpers on the evening.
Defensively, Umbaugh contributed an impressive five total blocks over the evening. Monnin joined the freshman with three assisted blocks. Davis, Seitz, and Benham each pitched in two blocks of their own in the effort.
Morgan Porter (Defiance/Defiance) concluded her impressive season with 18 digs. The Defiance native also threw in two aces and six assists. Wheeler's night didn't stop with assists as the sophomore also tallied a team-high 18 digs to match Porter. Abigail Cronin (Lambertville, Mich./Cardinal Stritch Catholic) followed close behind her teammates as she concluded her career with a 15-dig performance.
The Yellow Jackets conclude the 2019 season with a 17-12 overall record under the direction of Head Coach Brie Brenner.