Junior Paige Van­derWall is second on the team with 166 kills this season. (Photo: Todd Lan­caster | Courtesy)

Hillsdale College vol­leyball ran its winning streak to eight matches with vic­tories over Ursuline and Lake Erie last weekend.

“We’re keeping up the momentum by making every practice count and just keep getting a little bit better everyday as the season con­tinues on,” sophomore libero Taylor Wiese said.

Friday’s match against the Ursuline Arrows was the first time the pro­grams met on the court. Hillsdale won the match in three sets, thanks in large part to 10 service aces throughout the match — three of which were made by freshman middle hitter Allyssa Van Wienen.

Junior outside hitter Paige Van­derWall and senior outside hitter Jackie Langer both had seven kills and no hitting errors against Ursuline. The team’s overall hitting per­centage was .400, while the Chargers’ defense kept Ursuline to a .111 through the match.

“We are always looking to improve our defense,” head coach Chris Gravel said. “The first line of defense for us is blocking, which we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on over the last couple of weeks.”

That practice paid off against Ursuline — the Chargers gen­erated double the blocks the Arrows did. Wiese led the team’s defense against Ursuline with 11 digs, and freshman setter Lindsey Mertz con­tributed seven digs and 34 assists.

“Our away schedule is pretty daunting, but our team is used to trav­eling and we’ve done a fairly good job at coming off the bus ready to play,” junior rightside hitter Kara Vyletel said. “As long as we keep our mental strength and deter­mi­nation it shouldn’t be a huge factor in our play.”

The Chargers main­tained their winning streak against Lake Erie the next day, beating the Storm in a 3 – 1 match.

Vyletel led Hillsdale’s offense with 17 kills throughout the match. Langer also sig­nif­i­cantly con­tributed to the team’s overall 54 kills with her per­sonal season high of 14 kills and 17 digs. Van­derWall had nine kills and 12 digs.

Hillsdale’s defense also per­formed well, keeping Lake Erie to an overall .138 hitting per­centage. Van Wienen had three solo blocks, and Wiese had 27 blocks.

The Chargers only play Lake Erie once this season, so their victory on Sat­urday gave Hillsdale an advantage over the Storm if con­ference tour­nament seedings require tie-breaking.

Looking ahead to this weekend, the Chargers will compete in the tenth annual Midwest Region Crossover tour­nament against teams in several other midwest con­fer­ences — including former Great Lakes Inter­col­le­giate Ath­letic Con­ference rivals. Results from this tour­nament will help determine seeding for the NCAA Regional Tour­nament later this season.

“The GLIAC pushed our team. We also had estab­lished rivals and knew more about the teams in the GLIAC,” Vyletel said. “The G‑MAC has chal­lenged us in a new way with unknown teams and playing schemes.”

Up first on Friday is former GLIAC opponent Ferris State, also on a eight match winning streak. The Bulldogs are the reigning GLIAC cham­pions for the third year in a row.

“It’s hard to predict any­thing about this weekend,” Wiese said. “We play three really com­pet­itive teams, and we will just try to play our best vol­leyball and hope­fully come out with some wins.”

The Chargers are on the road through the entire month of October. To com­pensate for the tiring schedule, members of the team have focused on honing the offensive skills they need to win explo­sively at tour­na­ments like this weekend’s.

“One goal for this weekend is to work on a con­sistent and aggressive serve,” Langer said.

Hillsdale will also face another GLIAC team, Tiffin Uni­versity, on Friday. Until a 3 – 1 loss last season, the Chargers won 15 matches in a row against the Dragons.

“The Crossover has some huge teams. This weekend will be big, but when it comes down to it we’re just trying to make three more steps this weekend,” Vyletel said. “No matter what the outcome, our team is more than excited to face these teams.”

Hillsdale will wrap up their trip to the Midwest Region Crossover with a match against the Bel­larmine Uni­versity Knights, cur­rently ranked third in the Great Lakes Valley Con­ference.

“We’re going to keep winning,” Gravel said. “We’re taking it one step at a time.”

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Michael Lucchese
Michael Lucchese ‘18 is majoring in American Studies, and is a member of the Dow Journalism Program. In addition to the Collegian, he has also contributed to The Federalist, Acculturated, Conservative Review, and several other publications. In 2015, he reported on national security and foreign policy for Breitbart News. He also hosts a weekly radio show, The Michael Lucchese Show on Radio Free Hillsdale WRFH 101.7 FM. e-mail: Twitter: @MichaelLucchese