If all goes according to plan, the Hillsdale College volleyball team won't play another road match until the NCAA Tournament.
The Chargers finished off a three-week, eight-game road trip with an impressive 3-0 sweep of Kentucky Wesleyan College Saturday afternoon in Owensboro. The win, the team's fifth straight, keeps it in first place overall in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference with a 16-0 league mark, and 19-6 overall.
Hillsdale will play its final three matches of the regular season and, at minimum, a conference tournament quarterfinal match all at home starting with next Tuesday's showdown with the University of Findlay.
After struggling in many aspects of the game Friday night at Trevecca, the Chargers refocused and were devastating in long stretches in the win over KWC, winning the three sets by scores of 25-17, 25-8 and 25-15.
Set 1 was tightly played to start, with the teams tied at 15 apiece. But the Chargers turned it on, ending the set on a 10-2 run to finish off a 25-17 win.
That momentum didn't just carry over into set 2, it was a tidal wave crashing into the match's middle set. Hillsdale raced out to a 14-1 lead on the Panthers before settling in for a 25-8 triumph. The Chargers hit .571 as a team in the second set compared to -.097 for the Panthers.
Set 3 also saw Hillsdale establish early control and never waver. For the match, Hillsdale hit .339 as a team compared to .009 for KWC.
But it was more than just offense that was clicking for Hillsdale. The Chargers had an eye-opening 66-46 edge in digs, with three players - Taylor Wiese, Madie Schider and Paige VanderWall - all getting 13 or more digs. It was the kind of spirited effort that was welcome to finish off the season's longest road trip.
VanderWall was magnificent, adding 17 kills and a .438 hitting percentage, registering another high double-double for Hillsdale.
Freshman Karoline Shelton was outstanding, recording a career-high 11 kills, hitting .346, with 6 digs.
Sophomore setter Lindsey Mertz had 41 assists in an excellent performance while also picking up 6 digs.
PHOTO: Carly Gouge