liam bredberg | colleigan

The Hillsdale College Chargers went unde­feated in a weekend tour­nament of four games last Friday and Sat­urday. Led by standout exe­cution on offense and a reliable defense, the Chargers won a com­bined 12 sets in their four matches losing only four. The impressive finish in the tour­nament led the Chargers to be bumped five spots higher in the national rankings landing them at number 14. 

The Chargers faced great chal­lenges against a nationally ranked team and mul­tiple local rivals, losing two players to injury in early games. 

“We lost a starting outside hitter on Thursday night and a middle and right side hitter on Friday,” head coach Chris Gravel said. “The toughest opponent we faced this weekend was our­selves but the team was able to battle through adversity once again.”

Junior middle hitter Allyssa Van Wienen headed an out­standing offensive per­for­mance that pushed the Chargers past equally explosive offenses. She received the G‑MAC Vol­leyball Offensive Player of the Week award for the second week in a row for her efforts. She is the only G‑MAC player that has received the award thus far this season. 

“I believe there is always room for improvement.” Van Wienen said. “I have never played a perfect game, and I never will. Each day I go into practice or games with the mindset that this is my oppor­tunity to get better, and I do what I can to take advantage of that. Awards for me are awards for my team because any success I have as an indi­vidual is  a result of the success my team­mates also have while playing.”

Van Wienen fin­ished the tour­nament with a .456 hitting per­centage, and averaged 4 kills and one block per set. She had a career high 11 total blocks in the team’s match against Northwood, a number that ties the second place all-time record for most in a match by any G‑MAC player.

Senior libero Taylor Wiese kept pace with Van Wienen on the other side of the court, earning herself G‑MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Wiese averaged 5.4 digs across the four matches, adding an impressive 30 digs in her match against Palm Beach Atlantic. Her per­for­mance earned her a spot in the AVCA 30-dig Club for the third time in her career. 

The Chargers opened the tour­nament with a pow­erful match against regional rivals, Ashland Uni­versity, with a score of 3 – 0 on Friday night. The Chargers had not beat the Eagles since 2015 going into the season. 

“The win over Ashland feels great,” Gravel said. “Anytime we can beat Ashland is a good time.” 

The Chargers beat Northwood 3 – 1 on Friday night, topping the Tim­ber­wolves in almost every sta­tis­tical cat­egory. The Chargers led in hitting per­centage, block, and aces, and tied the Tim­ber­wolves in digs, each team putting up 61. Van Wienen recorded 16 kills with 0 errors on 23 attempts. She fin­ished the match with a .696 hitting per­centage. Taylor wiese had 17 digs in the game, leading a Charger defense that held the tim­ber­wolves under 20 points in three of the four sets, and under 15 in two.

The team added an impressive 3 – 1 win over Clarion to open play on Sat­urday. The Chargers fell to Clarion in their first set 14 – 25. Hillsdale bounced back to win three in a row, taking the match. Hillsdale led Clarion in hitting per­centage, blocks, and digs. The Chargers held the Golden Eagles – a team known for its pow­erful hitting – to a .000 hitting per­centage in the fourth and final set of the match. Sophomore Karoline Shelton had a career high 13 kills in the match.

The Chargers closed the tour­nament with the 3 – 2 win over the 16th ranked Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish. Van Wienen and sophomore Karoline Shelton led the Chargers offense with 19 kills each. Shelton broke her own per­sonal record for kills set in the pre­vious match of the day. Senior Emily Lachmann added her own per­sonal record of 15 kills to the offensive attack. Van Wienen had a stag­gering .459 hitting per­centage in the match. 

As favorites to win the con­ference for the third year in a row, the Chargers head into con­ference play more pow­erful and as a bigger threat than pre­vious seasons. 

“We had a good team last year,” Gravel said. “We have a good team this year, however, this year we are a little more ver­satile and our mental game has improved.”

The Chargers will begin con­ference play next Friday against Alderson Broaddus Uni­versity.