Two days before Midwest Regional play begins, three members of the Hillsdale College volleyball team were named among the 14 best players in the region.
Junior Paige VanderWall was named First-Team All-Region, while freshman Allyssa Van Wienen and sophomore Taylor Wiese each earned Second-Team All-Region honors. The all-region voting was conducted by sports information directors in the Midwest Region as part of the Division II Conference Commissioners Association program.
VanderWall, the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year, was one of two conference players to be named First-Team All-Region, joining Findlay's Amanda Winner. She enters NCAA Tournament play with 314 kills on the season with a .330 hitting percentage as the team's starting right-side hitter. Both of those numbers, along with her 260 digs, are single-season career-highs for the 5-foot-10 player from East Kentwood, Michigan. VanderWall had 15 kills with a .378 hitting percentage in the G-MAC Tournament Championship Match, a 3-1 win over Findlay, on Nov. 18.
Wiese is Hillsdale's single-season record-holder for digs in a season (25-point rally scdore era) with 571 this season. She led the conference with 5.34 digs per set and was named to All-Tournament Teams at Hillsdale to open the season and at the Midwest Region Crossover Tournament in October. She joined the AVCA's 30-dig club with a career-high 30 digs in a road win over Cedarville Oct. 27.
Van Wienen was the G-MAC regular season leader in hitting percentage (.349) and had an immediate impact on the conference champs in her freshman season. She has tallied 264 kills with 73 total blocks and 81 digs, and became a reliable option on offense for Hillsdale. She established a career-high in kills three times over the season's final four weeks and was named G-MAC West Division Player of the Week twice.
Wiese and Van Wienen were the only underclassmen (sophomores or younger) to earn All-Region accolades.
Wednesday afernoon, the American Volleyball Coaches Association released its all-region teams, and in addition to VanderWall, two more players were recognized for their terrific seasons.
Head coach Chris Gravel was named the AVCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year, the third time he has been so honored. This season joins the 2006 and 2010 seasons in which he was named the top coach in the region.
Over the years, the Charger volleyball team has received a high number of awards, but a new one came the program's way Wednesday. Setter Lindsey Mertz was named the Midwest Region Freshman of the Year, the first time a Hillsdale College volleyball player has ever received that award. Mertz was also an honorable mention All-Region honoree, adding to an impressive resume that includes being named G-MAC Freshman of the Year.
VanderWall repeated her First-Team All-Region selection from the D2CCA program. Joining her on First-Team All-Region was junior outside hitter Kara Vyletel, who picked up all-region recognition for the first time in her career. Vyletel led the Chargers in kills during the 2017 season and notched a career-best .279 hitting percentage. Both Vyletel and VanderWall are now automatically up for All-American honors.
No other team in the Midwest Region had as many as five different players earn All-Region honors between the AVCA and D2CCA programs.