If there was any doubt that volleyball can be a game of inches and momentum, Wednesday night proved it.
Getting the benefit of two very close calls in set three, the Eagles won a 25-23 decision over the Chargers to clinch a 3-0 win in the first round of the 2013 GLIAC Tournament. Hillsdale is 15-15 on the season and will await its NCAA postseason fate when the field for the tournament is announced Monday night.
The second of two controversial touch calls that went against Hillsdale ended up being the match-clinching point for the Eagles. A ball hit deep by Ashland appeared to hit out of bounds behind the end line uninterrupted, but the officials ruled a Hillsdale player touched the ball, giving the final point to the Eagles.
Earlier in the set, a nearly identical call went against Hillsdale when the Chargers held an 18-16 lead. All 12 players on the court reacted as if that ball was hit out of bounds by the Eagles initially, but the up official ruled in favor of Ashland. The Eagles took advantage of the break by going on a 5-0 run, turning the two-point deficit into a 21-18 lead, a lead it wouldn't lose again.
Sophomore outside hitter Emily Wolfert stepped up in the match with an outstanding effort for the Chargers. She was the only hitter able to consistently score all night, with her 12 kills and a .423 hitting percentage. She also had five digs, a service ace and one block assist for the Chargers.
Ashland had a .243 hitting percentage compared to .095 for Hillsdale in the match. The Eagles also had big statistical edges in digs, service aces and total kills.
Hillsdale struggled in all aspects of the game in the first two sets, when Ashland executed in a superior fashion on offense and defense, winning the sets by scores of 25-19 and 25-20.