One impressive streak came to an end for the Hillsdale College volleyball team Saturday afternoon. But a more important one continued.
Hillsdale's 21-set winning streak came to an end with a 25-16 loss to host Lake Erie College Saturday afternoon in Painesville, Ohio. But the Chargers gathered themselves and finished strong, winning the final three sets by scores of 25-14, 25-17 and 25-23 to win the match 3-1.
That gives Hillsdale an eight-match winning streak and a 15-3 overall record heading into next weekend's Midwest Region Crossover in suburban Chicago. Hillsdale now sits in second place overall in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference with an 8-2 league record. LEC, who knocked off first-place Findlay Friday night, fell to 7-3 in the G-MAC with the loss.
The Storm have been one of NCAA Division II's most improved volleyball teams since former Charger assistant Kevin Foeman took over the program prior to the 2015 season. Lake Erie has played the region's best competition very well, as evidenced by its 4-set win over Findlay Friday night and by its 25-16 win over the Chargers in Saturday's opening set. Lake Erie hit .243 as a team compared to .146 for Hillsdale in that opening set.
But the Chargers made some inspired adjustments and smothered the Storm offense over the final three sets. LEC finished the match with just a .138 hitting percentage, generating 47 kills but committing 25 hitting errors, compared to 54 and 17 for Hillsdale.
Senior Jackie Langer played her best match of the season, with 14 kills and 17 digs, both season-highs. Langer is a calming presence on the court for Hillsdale, and is one of its best serve receive passers. She also defends well at the net, and her presence made a big impact for the Chargers in this match.
Junior Kara Vyletel had 13 of her team-high 17 kills over the final three sets, while finishing with a .293 hitting percentage in the win. She added 9 digs to a solid all-around performance.
Freshman setter Lindsey Mertz had a dynamic match with 47 assists, nearly hitting the 12-assist per-set mark. She also had 3 kills and 5 digs for the Chargers. Sophomore libero Taylor Wiese was all over the back row with 27 digs, and her defense was another factor that helped swing the match in Hillsdale's favor.
This was a crucial win for Hillsdale for tiebreaking purposes as well. The Chargers and Lake Erie play just once in the regular season, and Hillsdale has given itself a big tiebreaker advantage over Lake Erie, should conference tournament seedings come down to that.