The Great Midwest Athletic Conference was blessed with a high number of terrific athletes across all sports in 2018-19. But one, from Hillsdale College, jumped a little higher, hit a little harder and won a little bit more than the rest.
Paige VanderWall, a recent Hillsdale graduate, was named the 2018-19 G-MAC Female Athlete of the Year. The award was announced Tuesday morning by the conference office.
A captain of the Charger volleyball team, VanderWall turned in one of the great athletic careers of the past decade of Hillsdale College athletics, regardless of sport. A two-time All-American right-side hitter, VanderWall led her team to its second straight G-MAC regular season and tournament championship in 2018. She was the conference leader in total kills with 417, and ranked third in hitting percentage (.330). It is extremely rare to have one player generate so many kills with such a high hitting percentage within the same season.
VanderWall also averaged 3.15 digs per set, another statistical anomoly for someone who creates so much offense on such a talented team. She had seven 20-kill matches during the season, highlighted by 27 against NCAA regional team Ashland in October, and 25 against Lake Erie in the G-MAC Tournament Semifinal in November.
She was named the G-MAC Player of the Year each of the past two seasons, and was the D2CCA Midwest Region Player of the Year in 2018. She earned All-American honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association each of the past two seasons, and finished her career with 1,293 kills, fifth-most in a career in school history. She's also the first volleyball player in G-MAC history to ever be named player of the year in back-to-back seasons. Most recently, VanderWall was Hillsdale's nominee for 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year.