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While trav­eling to the southern reaches of the G-MAC, Hillsdale College vol­leyball swept two matches last weekend. The Chargers improved their overall record to 10 – 3, and their con­ference record now sits at 3 – 2.

The southern cam­paign began with a 3 – 0 victory over Ken­tucky Wes­leyan College in Owensboro. Hillsdale’s defense limited Ken­tucky Wesleyan’s hitting per­centage to .092, due in large part to sophomore libero Taylor Wiese’s 14 digs. Junior outside hitter Kara Vyletel led the Chargers’ offense with 15 kills and 12 digs through the match, fin­ishing with a .406 hitting per­centage.

“The teams we faced gave us great oppor­tu­nities to work on some new things,” Vyletel said.  “Although we swept, we’re still looking to focus in on our matches and stay con­cen­trated on the task at hand throughout the entirety of our play.”

Junior rightside hitter Paige Van­derWall also per­formed well against the Ken­tucky Wes­leyan Pan­thers, tal­lying 12 kills and 7 digs for a .478 hitting per­centage.

On Monday, Van­derWall was named G-MAC West Division Player of the Week — the first time she’s been awarded this honor during her college career.

Van­derWall is ranked number five for hitting per­centage in the G-MAC, with a .318. She is also ranked ninth in the con­ference for number of kills, aver­aging about three kills per set. On the team, Van­derWall also leads the team’s defense, con­sis­tently setting career highs for digs through sets this season.

“It’s def­i­nitely a team honor, because we got the sweep both times this weekend,” Van­derWall said. “We clicked well to get the job done. A lot of people did a lot of great things.”

Head coach Chris Gravel described VanderWall’s award as “well-deserved” and praised the way the team improved to get on its three-match winning streak.

The Chargers kept up their winning streak on the second leg of their trip in a 3 – 0 sweep against the Trevecca Nazarene Trojans in Nashville, Ten­nessee.

“We really improved our serving and passing in those matches,” Gravel said.

Overall, the Chargers lead the G-MAC for average service aces per set — 1.9 — and for highest hitting per­centage — .258. In the match against the Trojans, Vyletel aced three serves and scored nine kills. Wiese scored two service aces and helped the back line with 12 digs. Van­derWall hit .556 against the Trojans, scoring 11 kills — the fifth straight match in which she scored double-digit kills.

“I think we all indi­vid­ually did little tasks better,” Van­derWall said. “We made a point of having con­stant com­mu­ni­cation which created more court synergy.”

Vyletel said that the team is still focusing on improving to keep up the new momentum it’s finding in con­ference play.

“Even though our energy was high throughout the matches, there were times we were not as men­tally strong as we should have been, so that will be some­thing we work on in practice this week,” Vyletel said.

Over Home­coming weekend, the Chargers will play three home matches in the Dawn Tib­betts Potter Arena.

“Three games in one weekend is unusual for con­ference play,” Van­derWall said. “We’ll need to focus on every ball and respect every opponent. We’ve been working a ton on the fun­da­mental skills this week so we’re hoping to play some crisp vol­leyball this weekend.”

Vyletel expressed antic­i­pation for the Chargers’ return home after the team’s longest road trip of the season.

“I hope everyone comes with a lot of energy ready to see some big plays from both sides of the court,” Vyletel said. “I’m excited to see all our hard work shown in play this weekend.”

On Friday evening, Hillsdale plays the Ohio Valley Uni­versity Fighting Scots, who have a 2 – 4 G-MAC record. On Sat­urday at noon, the Chargers face Davis & Elkins, cur­rently 2 – 3 in con­ference play. Finally, Sunday afternoon, the team will play Alderson-Broaddus Uni­versity, which is winless in the G-MAC.

“We are excited to play three teams we’ve never played before,” Gravel said. “We plan to be ready.”