The regular season champion Oakland Golden Grizzlies would not be denied the tournament title on Sunday afternoon as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat second-seed Milwaukee, 3-1.
After dropping the first set, Oakland won the second and third sets and then survived a back-and-forth fourth set to capture its first Horizon League volleyball championship.
The set scores were 22-25, 25-20, 25-19 and 26-24.
Jessica Dood, a member of the All-Tournament team, led the Golden Grizzlies with 14 kills on a .303 attack percentage. Sammy Condon, the tournament MVP, and Cassie Pelloni also reached double figures with 11 kills. Taylor Humm led the defense with a match-high 20 digs. Joining Condon and Dood on the All-Tournament team was their teammate Ciara Schultz who had 43 assists, five digs and three blocks in the championship match.
Julie Kolinske led the Panthers with a match-high 22 kills. Nicole Latzig and Kaisa Mattson added 10 kills apiece. Kayla Price added 49 assists and Taylor Golabowski had 17 digs. Kolinske and Price represented Milwaukee on the All-Tournament team.
Milwaukee captured the first set, 25-20, to take a 1-0 lead. Trailing 19-18, the Panthers went on a 6-1 run, to take a 24-20. Kolinske put the finish touch on the set with her seventh kills in the opening frame.
Oakland regrouped quickly in the second set, jumping out to a 10-4 lead. The Golden Grizzlies never trailed in the set, but a 5-2 run late in the set got the Panthers within one at 21-20. A kill by Condon would stem the tide though and consecutive service aces by Melissa Deatsch put the Golden Grizzlies back in control of the set. A hitting error by Milwaukee would give Oakland its final point of the set.
Oakland would use another run in the third set to take control, trailing 6-5, Oakland would go on a 10-1 run to take a 15-7 lead. Milwaukee would get within 19-18 to force a Golden Grizzly timeout, but Oakland would end the set on a 6-1 run to get themselves within one set of a title.
The fourth set was close throughout as the set featured eight ties and neither team would ever have a lead larger than three. The match was tied at 22, 23 and again at 24 before Oakland would capture the final two points to take the championship. Schultz and Amanda Baker combined for a block to give Oakland championship point and Pelloni ended it with a kill.
Oakland will represent the Horizon League in the NCAA Tournament, which begins on Thursday, Dec. 4. The Golden Grizzlies will learn their tournament opponent on Sunday, Nov. 30 at 8:30 p.m. ET. The NCAA Selection Show will air on ESPNU.
Shannon Watson, Youngstown State (Sr., MB)
Morgan Beil, Valparaiso (Sr., MH/RS)
Julie Kolinske, Milwaukee (Sr., OH)
Kayla Price, Milwaukee (Jr., S)
Ciara Schultz, Oakland (Jr., S)
Jessica Dood, Oakland (So., RS)
Sammy Condon, Oakland (MVP) (Fr., MH)