The Hillsdale College Chargers swept their two matches over Parents’ Weekend in a pair of wins over the University of Illinois-Springfield Prairie Stars and the Purdue University Northwest Pride. The two wins keep the Chargers unbeaten at 5 – 0 this season.
Friday, the Chargers pulled out a 5 – 2 victory through a series of long, tight matches. Delayed by a long men’s match, the Chargers played late into the night.
They began with a sweep of the doubles matches to earn the first point, but not after a tiebreak on the no. 1 court of sophomore Hannah Cimpeanu and freshman Sarah Hackman, who won the match 7 – 6 (7 – 1).
The singles matches stayed close, featuring two more tiebreaks from Cimpeanu on court 1 and junior Katie Bell on court 3. Bell came back from an 0 – 3 start in her first set to force a tiebreak, which she won 7 – 4 on her way to a straight set victory.
“Honestly, I just kind of went into it,” Bell said. “I just took a deep breath and tried to control the point. She made a lot more errors in the tiebreak and got a bit tight, so I was thinking ‘keep getting it back.’”
Bell said her adjustment away from an aggressive style is what helped her get out of that 0 – 3 hole in the first set.
“Everyone there was feeding off of her because they could tell she was really working hard and setting the tone,” coach Nikki Walbright said. “She definitely had a crazy match.”
Cimpeanu, who missed the Sunday match due to illness, fought long into her three-setter. But after splitting sets, she lost the deciding-set tiebreak 1 – 7 about three and a half hours after walking onto the court.
Senior Halle Hyman also played a close three-setter, but was able to stay above her opponent after a series of adjustments.
“Hyman was up and down the whole match. It went back and forth, but she never really quit,” Walbright said. “She had to keep adapting, and I credit her for getting through it.”
After losing a close first set 5 – 7, Hyman found herself in a deep hole in the second set. Down 1 – 5, she faced triple-set point. But she came back from that to win five straight games and take the set 7 – 5, and then win the third 6 – 3 in a three-and-a-half hour match.
“It was tough because we were neck-and-neck and then I trailed late in the first set. I was really tired and it was hard to get through that,” Hyman said. “But to see especially Cimpeanu’s match kept me going.”
With those long matches completed, junior Kamryn Matthews and senior Corinne Prost finished up the match quickly on the 5 and 6 courts, according to Walbright.
“Matthews and Prost were so dominant. They were completely flawless,” she said. “They didn’t miss a ball and didn’t give the other team a chance.”
Sunday’s match featured a slight change in lineup and a much shorter match time. Finishing up in around two hours, the Chargers swept by the Pride 7 – 0. With Cimpeanu and Bell out of singles with illnesses, senior Madeline Bissett and freshman Sophia Spinazze went into the lineup and won their matches in straight sets, as did the rest of the team. Again, the Chargers won each doubles match.
“Everyone else went out there all just went out and dominated their matches,” Walbright said. “It shows how dedicated we are to what we do. They stayed focused and confident and positive. We were able to showcase what we do best.”
Now, the Chargers will head to West Palm Beach for a series of matches over spring break. They will play the no. 2 ranked Lynn University Fighting Knights, along with Palm Beach Atlantic and Broward College. The Knights recently beat their first NCAA Division I opponent of the season, Georgetown University, 7 – 0.
“Lynn will be a really challenging match, but it’s really good for us because we played them last year and it was eye-opening to see that the margin between them and us is not that much different,” Walbright said. “We can hang with them for sure, but it’s really good to get the exposure of playing with them.”