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.