Despite a career performance from senior Paige VanderWall, the Charger volleyball team lost a tightly played four-set match to Ashland University Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles' 3-1 win came on the final day of the Midwest Region Crossover Tournament, held in Indianapolis. Hillsdale now stands at 14-6 on the season.
Ashland won the first set 25-20, but the Chargers came back to even the match with a 25-20 win in set two. Sets three and four ended in identical 25-23 wins for the Eagles.
VanderWall, a right-side hitter, had a career-high 27 kills in the loss, with a .344 hitting percentage. She broke her previous career-high of 23, set earlier this season. This was the second time in three matches at the crossover she exceeded the 20-kill threshhold. She also had 21 digs, also a career-high. This was the first 20-20 match of VanderWall's career.
Ashland hit .267 as a team, 40 points better than the Chargers, which represented one of the key factors in the match's final result.
Junior libero Taylor Wiese had 28 digs, and senior outside hitter Kara Vyletel contributed 12 kills for the Chargers. Sophomore setter Lindsey Mertz had 56 assists - an average of 14 per set - and had 7 digs. This is the first time in the 11-year history of the crossover event Hillsdale has gone 0-3.
A matchup with the first-place teams from the Great Lakes Valley Conference (Drury) and the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (Hillsdale) ought to be closely played, and the opener of the 11th Annual Midwest Region Crossover was just that.
The Chargers fell to the 12th-ranked Panthers 3-1 Friday in Indianapolis in the first match of the two-day, 38-team tournament.
The Chargers won the opening set 25-22, but lost the last three, by scores of 25-22, 25-21 and 25-23. All four sets were decided by four points or less.
Drury had a .304 hitting percentage in the match, the highest by any Hillsdale opponent this season. The Panthers committed just 16 attack errors despite the Chargers' nine team blocks. Drury's offense was just enough to counter nine service aces by Hillsdale and an outstanding match by senior right-side hitter Paige VanderWall.
VanderWall led all players with 20 kills, her fourth 20-kill match of the season. She also had 9 digs, 4 service aces, 1 solo block and 3 block assists in the contest.
Sophomore Madie Schider delivered a career-high 18 digs, doing her best to counter the heavy offensive attack from a big Panther squad. Junior libero Taylor Wiese had 21 digs to go with her 2 service aces. Sophomore setter Lindsey Mertz averaged more than 12 assists per set, finishing with 50 for the match, and had 6 digs.
The Chargers played another tight match in Friday's second outing in the crossover tournament, but came up short against a Lewis University team that opened the season ranked in Division II's top five.
The Flyers won three sets by a combined total of 11 points, defeating the Chargers 3-0. The set scores were 26-24, 25-20 and 25-21. The loss drops Hillsdale to 14-5 on the season.
Lewis committed just 10 hitting errors and had a .277 hitting percentage as a team in the match. It had nine fewer hitting errors than the Chargers, and had four more block assists as a team.
VanderWall notched another high double-double with 15 kills and 14 digs. She was one of three players who had double digit digs in the match, along with Wiese (22 digs) and Schider (13 digs). Senior Kara Vyletel had a big offensive match with 13 kills and a .258 hitting percentage, while Mertz had 43 assists.
Through two matches of the crossover tournament, Mertz is averaging 13.2 assists per set.
PHOTO: Greg Vyletel