This weekend's three-day, three-match road trip through Ohio got off to an ideal start for the Hillsdale College volleyball team.
Playing with increasing defensive intensity as the match wore on, the Chargers secured a 3-0 sweep of Tiffin University Friday night in Ohio. The win snaps Hillsdale's three-match losing streak and makes the team 15-6 overall and 12-0 in conference play. Hillsdale now has a three-game lead on Tiffin in the standings, with a season sweep in head-to-head matchups.
Tiffin started the match hot, putting down eight kills before committing its first hitting error. But the Chargers gathered themselves for a 25-23 win in the opening set. Hillsdale took early leads in the final two sets, winning 25-22 and 25-17.
A telltale sign of Hillsdale's ascending defense in the match came in the Dragons' team hitting percentages in each set. Tiffin hit .289 as a team in set one, outhitting Hillsdale (.250). But in set 2, Tiffin's percentage fell to .140, and bottomed out in set 3 to the tune of .000 (10 kills, 10 errors as a team).
The Chargers' strong defensive coverage was reflected in their 71 digs as a team, a season-high in a three-set match. Senior Paige VanderWall set a career-high in digs for the second consecutive match with a team-best 22. VanderWall's all-around play, in the front and back row the past couple weeks, has been superb in every respect. Junior Taylor Wiese had 14 and freshman Maggie DePorre set an individual career-high with 10 digs.
Offensively, sophomore middle hitter Allyssa Van Wienen was consistent and productive, finishing with a team-high 14 kills to go along with 4 digs and a solo block. VanderWall had 13 kills, five coming in the opening set. Senior Kara Vyletel heated up offensively in the second set and finished with 9 kills.
Sophomore Lindsey Mertz added 44 assists, a healthy average of more than 14 per set. Mertz and Madie Schider had 9 digs apiece for the Chargers, who have now won 27 consecutive G-MAC matches, a conference record.
PHOTO: MaryKate Drews