September 10, 2013 - There was a lot of "new" in Tuesday night's home volleyball match between Hillsdale College and Cedarville University. New players on the court, a new court itself, and a venue that hosted a Charger volleyball match for the first time ever. One of the only things that wasn't new was the result.
For the 15th year in a row, the Chargers won their home opener, this time taking a 3-1 non-conference win from the Yellow Jackets. This was the first-ever regular season volleyball match played inside the Margot v. Biermann Athletic Center, which had its grand opening back in March.
Hillsdale is now 1-4 on the season and heads to familiar ground this weekend, participating in the Towne Place Suites Classic on the campus of the University of Findlay. Cedarville falls to 2-3 after the result of Tuesday's match.
The match was played on a smooth, plastic-type surface known as Sport Court, which is very common in the club volleyball circuit. The Chargers have practiced exclusively on this surface since it reported for preseason practice in August. Small, metal portable bleachers were brought in to surround the court, the scoreboard was based on the floor, and even the national anthem was done in somewhat makeshift fashion, with the American flag being displayed on an iPad for all to see before the game.
Once the opening whistle blew, more familiar events commenced, as the Chargers used a diverse attack to earn its first win of the campaign. Hillsdale easily rolled to a 25-14 win in the first set. The team then stormed back to win a thrilling second set 26-24. The Yellow Jackets responded in impressive fashion, winning set three 25-21. The Chargers regained their focus and sharpness for much of the fourth set, closing out the match with a 25-21 win.
Hillsdale was in rhythm in the first set, hitting .528 as a team (15 kills, 1 error, 28 attempts), which exemplified high-level passing, setting and hitting all the way through the lineup.
Set two saw more "newness" from the Chargers, as one of their youngest players grabbed control late and gave a thrilling glimpse into the future.
Cedarville battled its way to a 23-20 lead in set two when freshman middle hitter Briana Herr announced her arrival on the scene with a dominant stretch of volleyball. Hillsdale finished the set on a 6-1 run, during which time Herr had three kills, one solo block and one block assist, directly accounting for five of the team's six points in that stretch. Although Herr only saw action in set two, she finished with an impressive stat line of six kills, two solo blocks and two block assists to go along with a .556 hitting percentage.
In set four, Hillsdale fell behind 15-13 after an 8-2 run by the Yellow Jackets, but quickly regained momentum thanks to a 5-0 run to pull ahead 18-15. The team never lost the lead after that.
Offensively, five players finished with six or more kills, led by 11 from sophomore Emily Wolfert. Her impact on the match was obvious, as she powered through the Cedarville defense when the team was able to run a set play for her. Senior Caitlin Kopmeyer played libero in set two, but returned to her familiar outside hitter position in the other sets, and finished with eight kills, 15 digs and two service aces. Junior Lindsay Kostrzewa added seven kills with just one error and had four block assists. Senior Bekah Draves also turned in a strong, consistent performance with a team-high five block assists to go along with eight kills and a .500 hitting percentage.
Junior Alexis Waugh led the Chargers with 25 assists, while sophomore Marissa Owen dished out 16 assists, just three short of her career high. Senior Sydney Lenhart led the back row with a team-best 16 digs.