The Hillsdale Chargers swept Ursuline College in three sets on Tuesday, clinching home-court advantage for the G-MAC tournament this weekend. The match started out close, but the team was able to come together and deliver decisive victories of 25 – 11, 25 – 14, and 25 – 18.
“I think we just had to get settled in a little bit,” assistant coach Stephanie Gravel said. “Our serving was strong and, when we’re on our serving game, it’s pretty hard for them to stay in system and run their offense.”
Hillsdale had seen the Arrows in regular season competition, so the coaching staff drew from their knowledge based on previous games.
“They hit line really well,” Gravel said. “We’ve been working on it all season where they’ve switched the rotation for defense on their outside hitter. We just prepped for that. It worked well last time.”
The Chargers were without their starting setter, sophomore Lindsey Mertz, due to illness. Senior Taylor Bennett stepped in and set the entire match with 30 assists.
“It was good for us,” junior middle hitter Veronica O’Connor said. “It allowed us to have different looks at how the sets were coming off. It refreshed us in a way, having a different setter on the court. It’s going to help us out later on. If Lindsey is struggling, we have Taylor who is a competent setter as well.”
According to freshman outside hitter Maggie DePorre, the team was able to communicate and play together despite Mertz’s absence.
“If things were off, then we talked about it right away,” DePorre said. “That’s the difference between a strong team and a weaker team. We were able to talk out the bumps.”
With the victory, the Chargers advance to the G-MAC semifinal against Lake Erie College. The match will be Friday at 5 p.m.
“Lake Erie gave us a little bit of trouble last time we played them,” O’Connor said. “They’re a very hard-working team. They have an amazing drive to keep the ball up and be ready for long rallies if they happen.”
While the team is focused on the G-MAC tournament, other goals are in play.
“We all want to go further than just this conference championship,” DePorre said. “We all want to win a national championship. Everything we do from now on, in practice and in games, every single rep is towards that final goal.”
Hillsdale is the top seed in the tournament and hasn’t lost to a conference opponent all season.
“The girls are excited and ready to go,” Gravel said. “We’re happy to be hosting, less travel, less missed class time. They’re happy to be home and happy to have home fans too.”