A trio of Otterbein University volleyball players from Westerville, Ohio garnered spots on the 2019 All-Ohio Athletic Conference team for the first time in their careers Monday morning, including a pair of special-award winners, as announced by the league office.
Headlining the entire list was junior middle hitter Tate Eppard from Greenwood Village who emerged to claim OAC Player of the Year honors following a vote from the league coaches. Her selection makes Otterbein the first school in volleyball league history to claim three-straight Player of the Year honors, as Eppard now joins a list that includes former All-Americans Morgan Lowenkamp (2017) and Hadley Sterett (2018). They are the only three Cardinals to ever receive the highest honor.
Eppard is from Greenwood Village and attended Cherry Creek High School. She led the OAC in total kills (383) and kills per set (3.61) this season while also ranking fourth in hitting percentage (.333), fifth in total blocking (80) and seventh in blocks per set, compiling 15 solo and 65 assisted for a 0.75 average. She erupted for a career-high 27 kills and .571 hitting percentage against Heidelberg, blasted 19 in the recent OAC Tournament Championship, and also delivered 15 in a win over nationally-ranked Carnegie Mellon.
“We are so happy for Tate,” head coach Monica Wright said. “She has been our rock offensively and I can’t think of one bad match she’s had all year. I haven’t seen a more motivated player in terms of their approach to practice and each offseason, getting from where she was to where she is now. She barely saw the floor as a freshman because she was sitting behind Morgan, but always continued to learn and improve. This is a testament to her work ethic and focus.”
Otterbein currently boasts a 25-6 overall record, including a 7-2 mark within the OAC, to finish third in the regular-season standings. The Cards then narrowly fell in the tournament final at ONU, seeing four match-point opportunities in one of the most competitive battles all season. Five of Otterbein’s losses were to nationally-ranked teams.
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