Sweeps against Ohio Valley, Davis & Elkins, and Alderson Broaddus over Homecoming weekend bumped Hillsdale volleyball’s win streak to 6-0.
The Chargers’ overall record improved to 13-3, and 6-2 in conference play. Hillsdale hasn’t lost a set since its home loss against Cedarville last month.
The team’s perfect Homecoming weekend started with a 3-0 victory over the Ohio Valley Fighting Scots on Friday evening. The team’s overall hitting percentage was .312, and junior outside hitter Kara Vyletel led the offense with 10 kills and a hitting percentage of .429. She currently is the only player in the G-MAC ranked in the top six for both kills and hitting percentage.
“Kara had a very good weekend,” head coach Chris Gravel said. “She continues to force opponents to recognize where she is on the court at all times.”
Freshman middle hitter Allyssa Van Wienen and junior rightside hitter Paige VanderWall also performed well against the Fighting Scots, both scoring 11 kills in the match.
Hillsdale’s offense continued to shine in the next match of Homecoming weekend, a 3-0 victory over the Davis & Elkins Senators. Vyletel scored 16 kills and a career-record .750 hitting percentage. Each of the four players who recorded five or more kills in the match also had an individual hitting percentage of at least .500, contributing to an overall .450.
The Chargers’ defense also performed efficiently against Davis & Elkins, holding the Senators to a .000 hit percentage. Sophomore libero Taylor Wiese had 18 digs, and senior outside hitter Jackie Langer followed closely with 13.
“Our main focus in practice last week was blocking,” Vyletel said. “We have been known in previous years as a very intimidating blocking team. We successfully cleaned up our blocking which, in turn, enabled the defense to play well behind the block.”
Langer explained that the Chargers’ offensive efficiency is closely tied to improvements in defense and communication.
“We couldn’t have had a great offense without the help of everyone,” she said. “The blockers are setting the block early, so we can work around them.”
The Chargers wrapped up their perfect Homecoming weekend by dealing the Alderson Broaddus Battlers a crushing defeat. Wiese led the defense with 15 digs, and Langer led the offense with a season-high 10 kills and a .500 hitting percentage. VanderWall also scored 10 kills, followed by Van Wienen with seven and sophomore middle hitter Hannah Gates with five.
In all three matches this weekend, the Chargers saw considerable success on the service line. The team scored four aces — all of which were served by Langer — against Ohio Valley, and eight against both Davis & Elkins and Alderson Broaddus.
“We believe in making our serves almost as if it were a part of our offense, and we aim to keep a team out of system as much as we can,” Gates said.
Gates also said even though the Chargers usually don’t play on Sunday, the team has been mentally preparing for the long weekends on their new G-MAC schedule.
“We knew coming into this week that it would be a longer work week, so we prepared ourselves for longer practices in anticipation of these new teams that we’ve never seen before,” she said. “We’ve been preparing for these long weekends since the first day of preseason. Our goal this season is to outwork and out-condition our opponents.”
Gravel noted that the team is on the road through all of October, and that’s affecting what the players concentrate on during practice.
“Everything has been in preparation for the month of October,” he said. “In practice, we’re focusing on toughness.”
This weekend, the Chargers face away matches at Ursuline on Friday night and Lake Erie on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve never seen Ursuline before so we’re going to do our best to prepare for anything this week in practice,” Gates said. “However, we’ve seen Lake Erie many times, and they’re always fun competition.”
The Lake Erie Storm are coached by Kevin and Remy Foeman, who were on the Chargers’ coaching team before heading to Lake Erie’s program — which has consistently ranked as one of Division II’s most improved teams during their tenure. Saturday’s match is the only regular season match scheduled between the teams.
“We have never played at Ursuline before and Lake Erie is the number one team in the East division,” Gravel said. “Fans should expect a battle.”