There would be no repeat of another close, frustrating loss for the Hillsdale College volleyball team Saturday afternoon. The team's seniors saw to that.
Paige VanderWall and Kara Vyletel were dominant, as the Chargers put together a terrific match in defeating the University of Missouri-St. Louis 3-0 at the University of Findlay. The win leaves Hillsdale at 4-3 on the season as it heads into a mini break in the schedule. The team plays just twice in the next 13 days.
Looking to get the bitter taste of Friday night's loss out of its collective mouth, the team came out and played with fire and focus against the Tritons, who are a good team in their own right. Both Hillsdale and UMSL appeared in the "others receiving votes" portion of the AVCA Division II Top 25 poll last week. But Hillsdale was impressive in all aspects and won the sets by scores of 25-20, 25-13 and 25-15.
VanderWall, who had the second 20-kill match of her career the night before, nearly matched that performance against the Tritons, leading the Hillsdale offense with 16 kills and a hefty .452 hitting percentage. Nine of those kills came in the opening set, when she was locked in and on the receiving end of some quality sets from sophomore Lindsey Mertz.
Vyletel heated up as the match went along, finishing with 15 kills while hitting .419, making this one of her most efficient matches of the season. For a while, Vyletel and VanderWall literally alternated kills, as Mertz did a great job distributing sets and helping to run the offense in an unpredictable way. Junior Hannah Gates was terrific at the net with 7 kills on just 11 attempts, while sophomore Allyssa Van Wienen added 9 kills.
Mertz had 41 assists, averaging nearly 14 per set. On defense she contributed 8 digs. The Chargers were plus-11 in the dig department vs. the Tritons, another sign of the team's high level of focus and execution.
On Sept. 7, the Chargers head to Malone to face the Pioneers before returning home to take on Cedarville Sept. 11.
Sometimes, statistics don't tell the true story of a volleyball match, even when they should.
The Hillsdale College volleyball team lost a frustrating match to regional foe Ashland University 3-1 Friday afternoon at the University of Findlay Classic in Ohio. The loss drops the Chargers to 3-3 while the Eagles stayed undefeated at 6-0.
The Chargers got off to a roaring start in the match, dominating set 1 25-14. But Ashland played well in the waning moments of each remaining set, winning the final three by scores of 25-22, 25-22 and 25-23. The Chargers had the rare match where they lost in four sets, but outscored their opponent in total points (92-89).
Hillsdale also had a better hitting percentage (.230-.199) and had more kills (57-52). Even the serving game was to Hillsdale's advantage, but the one area the Eagles scored lots of points was in the blocking game. Ashland had 16 block assists as a team compared to 6 for the Chargers, a big edge in a match so closely played.
The loss spoiled one of the most productive matches in the career of senior right-side hitter Paige VanderWall. She delivered 20 kills against just two errors, good for a .562 hitting percentage. It was the second-most kills she's ever had in a match and was the second 20-kill match of her career.
Sophomore Lindsey Mertz dished out 49 assists and had a pair of service aces, while Taylor Wiese's 19 digs led a balanced effort on defense. VaderWall and Mertz each picked up 8 digs, while sophomores Madie Schider and Allyssa Van Wienen each had 7. Van Wienen (13) and senior Kara Vyletel (12) reached double figures in kills for Hillsdale.
Photo: Greg Vyletel