AURORA, Ill. (naccsports.org) --- Aurora University overcame a 2-0 deficit to win the 2018 NACC Women's Volleyball Tournament in a five-set thriller over Concordia University Wisconsin Saturday night at Thornton Gymnasium.
The teams traded points back-and-forth in the opening set before CUW (19-10) used a 7-3 run to pull out to a 12-8 advantage. The lead eventually grew to five points at 19-14, forcing an Aurora timeout. The Spartans (23-8) chipped away at the advantage, cutting the deficit to two points by exhausting one set point before a Holly Anderson kill gave the Falcons a 25-22 win in the opening set.
CUW grabbed an early lead in the second set as well, moving in front by an 11-6 score before Aurora was forced to take its first timeout. The lead grew to eight points at 19-11. A 7-4 Spartan run cut the lead to just four points at 23-18, but the Falcons closed out the set with a Megan Mayer kill and a Kendall Stribling service ace.
The Falcons jumped out an 11-5 lead in the third set and seemed primed to complete the sweep, but the Spartans rattled off four straight points to force a CUW timeout. The rally sparked a 9-3 run for Aurora to tie the set at 14-14. After trading side-outs to move the score to 15-15, the Spartans won 10 of the next 14 points to win the set, 25-19, and cut the overall deficit to 2-1.
The fourth set was a relatively even affair early on with Aurora gaining an early advantage. The Spartans eventually pushed the lead to 18-13, prompting a Falcon timeout. CUW rallied with eight of the next 11 points to tie the set at 21-21. The Falcons were unable to maintain the momentum, however, as Aurora closed out the set with four straight points to force a fifth-and-deciding set.
The Spartans rode the momentum from the fourth set into the fifth, winning four of the first five points to force a Falcon timeout. CUW was able to stem the tide, though, keeping the margin at 2-3 points as late as 8-6 on a Stribling kill. Aurora would find its stride, however, to score seven of the final nine points to close out the match.
Each team had three players with double-digit kills. Aurora was led by Katie Vondra's match-high 18 kills, while Imani Freeman added 14 and Karli Chambers had 13. Vondra coupleted the double-double with 22 digs. Emily Lines also had a double-double for the Spartans, accumulating 51 assists and 22 digs. Julia Wood (19) and Makayla Fincher (16) also posted double figures in digs. Overall, Aurora had 14 blocks, led by Lindsey Simpson with nine and Freeman with six.
CUW was led by Madelyn Alton's 15 kills and 23 digs. Mayer (14 kills, 11 digs) and Mackenzie Wockenfus (30 assists, 16 digs) also had double-doubles.
The tournament title is the first for the Spartans, who also received the league's automatic berth to the 2018 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship. The list of selected teams and brackets will be released at 11:30 a.m. Monday morning.