LIMA - With no disrespect to any of the previous 23 teams, the meat of the University of Northwestern Ohio volleyball schedule began Wednesday night when Davenport University visited Racers Gymnasium. With both teams tied atop the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference standings, something had to give.
It took a prodigious effort, but the Lady Racers won their 20th straight match with a 3-1 win over the Panthers; individual set scores were 25-12, 25-27, 28-26, 25-21.
The win moved UNOH to 23-1 overall and 5-0 in the WHAC, tied with Madonna University and Indiana Tech. Davenport fell to 17-4 and 4-1.
"It's been a while since we've played someone with a lot of talent, and Davenport coming down here is one of the best teams we've seen all year," UNOH coach Kevin Kitchen said. "I definitely would call it a great win."
As for the 20-straight wins, Kitchen said the topic never comes up for a simple reason - the players want to win every single match.
"In all honesty, they don't care how many in a row it is, they just want to win all of them," Kitchen said. "Every day we have to learn to not get complacent, not get satisfied with where we're at and want to take it to the next level. No matter how good or bad they practice, they're gamers. They love to be out on the court."
UNOH stormed out a 19-7 lead in the first set, using an early 6-1 run to take control with a 9-4 lead. The Lady Racers continued the streak with an early 12-8 lead in the second set, but Davenport quickly showed it wasn't going away without a fight. The Panthers took a 15-13 lead and increased it to 20-16 before UNOH tied it at 23-23. The Lady Racers took a 25-24 lead, but scored the final three points for the set win and a 1-1 tie.
The third set was back-and-forth until UNOH scored four straight points for a 14-9 lead. The Panthers hung around, though, eventually closing to within 18-17, then tying the set at 24-24 and taking a 26-25 lead. This time, the Lady Racers scored the final three points for the win.
With a match win in their sights, scored eight straight points to take an 8-2 lead in the fourth set. But as expected, Davenport roared back to trail just 10-9. Each time UNOH would open a lead, Davenport closed within one point, including 22-21. From there Casey Gates had a kill, Cierra Anderson served up an ace, and Megan Fullenkamp and Casey Gates closed out with a block for the win.
Ellie Comes had a team-high 18 digs. Maxwell had 49 assists, nine digs and eight kills.
The Lady Racers try to make it 21-straight wins Tuesday when they travel to IU-Kokomo; UNOH beat IU-K 3-0 on September 22. They host Lawrence Tech on Wednesday and Marygrove College on Tuesday, October 16 in a pair of WHAC matches.
UNOH will host Madonna on October 24 and No. 22 Cornerstone University, who is a game back at 3-1, on October 31, before closing out the conference slate at Indiana Tech on November 2.
"We have a luxury this year; it seems that everyone who is at the top of the conference this year we play at home, and one of our goals is to defend our home court and win every match here," Kitchen said. "So far, so good."