The Margot V. Biermann Center was loud and alive with the sounds of a blaring radio and bouncing volleyballs. The Hillsdale College women’s volleyball team has made the new center its home courts until renovation of the George Roche Sports Complex finishes this fall.
With a roster totaling 18 talented players — more than any other team in the history of Hillsdale volleyball – and head coach Chris Gravel entering his 18th season as coach, the season holds great promise.
Last year, the Chargers won 17 of their 33 regular season games. This year, the team plans on beating that admirable record. According to the team’s webpage, their goal is a third consecutive appearance in the illustrious Sweet Sixteen. This may seem like a lofty objective, but it is definitely within the grasp of this team.
Coach Gravel is very proud of last year’s accomplishments and is definitely driven to win even more this year. He stated that the team as a whole is “very deep” and “good in every place.” In fact, he said it will be difficult to determine which players will start because team members are “balanced in skill.”
Experienced veterans now pack the Charger roster. Last season, the team was dominated by freshmen and sophomores. These former college rookies now have at least a season (and postseason) under their belts.
On top of this crucial experience, they barnstormed in a 10-day overseas tour of Austria and Italy over the summer and made the Charger Nation proud with their tenacity and skill on the courts of Europe.
Charger Volleyball currently has four seniors on the team whose knowledge and skill will be passed down to the younger players. The four seniors are Bekah Draves (Midland, Mich.), Sydney Lenhart (Temperance, Mich.), Caitlyn Kopmeyer (Troy, Mich.) and Kaleigh Shuster (Grand Rapids, Mich.).
Kopmeyer returns after winning first team All-GLIAC honors as a junior and racking up over 300 kills and 300 digs in one season. Big things are also expected of sophomore Emily Wolfert, who also racked up over 300 kills in a season, the second freshman at Hillsdale to do so in the 25-point rally score era.
With the addition of four qualified and capable freshmen on the team this year, along with the current sophomores and juniors, the team will grow in strength, ability, and depth as the season progresses.
Brianna Herr, a freshman from McComb, Ohio, is one of the all-time leaders in career blocks in the state of Ohio. Erin Holsinger, a freshman from Roanoke, Va., helped lead her team to a state championship as a junior, and the third freshman hails from Temecula, Calif., where she won MVP of her team four times in a row.
The Chargers travel to St. Paul, Minn. this weekend, where they will compete against some of the best division II teams in the country, including regional rival University of Indianapolis. The team will face a difficult away schedule this year, as they will play only one home match in the month of September. That match is on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Biermann Center against Cedarville.