In a battle of two 8-1 squads, Denison dropped three hard-fought sets (25-23, 25-22, 25-22) to Ohio Northern University on Tuesday evening from Livingston Gymnasium.
The Big Red jumped out to an early 3-1 lead in the opening set, but six-straight DU miscues and a solo block gave the Polar Bears a five-point lead. The home team quickly battled back and squared the match at 10-10. The back-and-forth battle carried on throughout the set, eventually reaching 21-all which forced an ONU timeout. After falling behind 24-22, Denison head coach Lynsey Whisner called her second timeout of the set. Out of the stoppage, sophomore setter Jessica Borsani quick passed the ball over the net to narrow the margin to 24-23. However, Ohio Northern's Kristen Davidson secured the first set with a kill.
The two teams battled closely for the early stages of the second set until a 9-2 run gave the Polar Bears a 14-6 advantage. The Big Red continued to hang around and slowly trimmed away the deficit. Trailing 23-20, a thunderous kill by Kenzie Kuhn brought the DU fans to their feet and forced Ohio Northern coach Kate Witte to call a timeout. The two teams traded off points out of the timeout, but it was a kill by Kelsie Zumberger that ended the second set in ONU's favor.
The third set saw the home team fall behind by as many as nine points at 18-9. However, the resilient Big Red fought back for a third time to close the margin to 23-19. After a ball handling error put DU one point away from defeat, Kuhn kept Denison alive with another kill. Junior Sarah Blum followed with an ace, while an ONU miscue made it a 24-22 contest. Despite shrinking a once nine-point margin to two, it was the Polar Bears who came up with the final strike as a Kaitlann Hogrefe kill secured the three-set win for Ohio Northern.
Denison was led offensively by Kuhn's 13 kills and two service aces. First-year Brittany Perry also logged 10 kills, while Elena Lein had seven finishers. Borasni finished the night with 32 assists. Defensively, Emily Marguerite and Blum logged 26 and 11 digs, respectively.
Denison falls to 8-2 on the year, while Ohio Northern improves to 9-1. The Big Red returns to action on Thursday (Sept. 13) when they travel to John Carroll for a 7 p.m. match.