After losing matches to Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech. University, the Charger volleyball team’s bus broke down, delaying their arrival on campus to early Sunday morning.
“It was a very long weekend, not only because we lost,” senior Lauren Grover said. “But our bus also broke down and we didn’t get back until 7 a.m. Sunday morning. But that’s just part of the ups and downs of being an athlete.”
The team traveled to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to play against Northern Michigan University and Michigan Technical University.
Friday, the team faced the Northern Michigan Wildcats, losing 1 – 3 (14 – 25, 25 – 21, 22 – 25, and 22 – 25).
Head coach Chris Gravel said the team was not ready to play and was just waiting for the Wildcats to make mistakes rather than make a play.
“We started off slow in the first set,” junior Sydney Lenhart said. “We should have been up two nothing before the break. We just didn’t play our game.”
By the end of the game, freshman Emily Wolfert delivered 12 kills. Most of them were in the final three sets. Additionally, Grover helped lead the team offensively with 12 kills.
Lenhart contributed with 28 assists, and sophomore Alexis Waugh added 16 assists with seven digs for the Chargers. Junior Caitlin Kopmeyer had 11 kills and nine digs. Serving as libero, sophomore Bailey Linder led the team with 17 digs for the match.
“The match started out the same way we finished,” Gravel said. “We were playing not to lose rather than to get the win.”
Following their loss to Northern Michigan, the Chargers also lost a comeback bid against Michigan Tech Huskies in a fifth set clincher.
“The [Michigan Tech] match was one of the toughest losses this season because we were clearly the better team,” Grover said. “We just didn’t show up the first two games and then lacked the urgency to finish in the fifth set.”
Hillsdale lost the first two sets of the match 17 – 25 and 12 – 15. The team then came back in the third and fourth sets to force the match into a fifth set. The Chargers lost the fifth set 13 – 15.
“If someone would have told me at the start of the set we were going to lose, I would not have believed them,” Lenhart said. “We had the momentum in the fifth. Things were just too up and down, which is something we could not afford. We needed to be smarter throughout the entire set.”
Starting the third set, freshman Marissa Owen took over as libero for Linder. Gravel said Owen had a great game against Michigan Tech, and she was probably one of the reasons the Chargers were able to push them to five sets.
“One of the great things about our team is that we push ourselves, and work so hard that we can play in any position that we need to in a game,” Lenhart said.
Kopmeyer continued to lead the team with 12 kills. Grover delivered five blocks and Owen had 17 digs. Wolfert served two service aces.
“We cannot afford to overlook anyone,” Lenhart said. “As we learned this weekend, they [Michigan Tech] were a good team and played good defense.”
“We understand that we have a lot of work to do,” Grover said. “If we work hard this week in practice and win out this weekend, we still have a chance to host the first round of the GLIAC tournament next week.”
The losses this weekend do not mean that this coming weekend’s games against Ferris State University and Grand Valley State University will be the end of the season for the Chargers. This past weekend, throughout the GLIAC, a number of the top right teams were upset, said Gravel.
“Knowing the consequences of a loss this weekend should hopefully give us back our sense of urgency,” Gravel said.
For postseason play, Gravel said this weekend did not help, but made it a little harder. He also said these are some big games that the team needs to win unless the Chargers want to travel in the first round of conference games.
“Now we have even more pressure to win out this weekend for good seeding in both the GLIAC and the region,” Lenhart said. “We have no other choice, we need to take this weekend as motivation to beat both Ferris and Grand Valley.”