The Hillsdale College Chargers went two-for-two in conference play this weekend, defending their undefeated G‑MAC record and cementing their status as favorites to win the conference. The team is ranked 16th in the country, a slight increase from previous weeks. The Chargers’ record rose to 14 – 2 overall, and 5 – 0 in the G‑MAC.
“The team is continuing to grow stronger as individuals and as a team,” head coach Chris Gravel said. “If we continue down this path throughout the season, I believe our play will help achieve a good standing within the conference.”
Chargers have now earned 17 of the 20 total G‑MAC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week recognitions awarded this season.
Senior Taylor Wiese earned the G‑MAC Defensive Player of the Week award for her impressive performances in the two weekend matches. Wiese led a defense that held both opponents to a hitting percentage under .100. She averaged 6.5 digs per set leading the G‑MAC and had an astounding 19 digs in the three set win over Cedarville. The award was Wiese’s second on the season.
Sophomore Karoline Shelton was awarded the G‑MAC Offensive Player of the Week award after leading the Hillsdale offense in two impressive wins. Shelton clocked a double-double in both matches with 15 kills and 11 digs versus the Tiffin Dragons and 10 kills and 13 digs against the Cedarville Yellow Jackets. She also had three service aces and four total blocks on the weekend. The award was the first of Shelton’s college career.
The Chargers faced the Tiffin University Dragons in a highly anticipated Friday afternoon matchup. Both teams entered the match undefeated in G‑MAC play, the winner taking sole possession of number one in the conference. Hillsdale beat the Dragons with impressive set scores of 25 – 8, 25 – 15, and 25 – 16.
En route to victory over Tiffin, the Chargers earned a season-high .633 team hitting percentage in their first set against the Dragons. They put down 16 kills with zero errors in 30 attempts. The team finished the match with a .443 hitting percentage while Tiffin hit for .092. Hillsdale also led in blocks and digs with four and 80.
Junior Lindsey Mertz, the reigning G‑MAC offensive player of the week, put up an impressive performance in the win with a career-high 52 assists, averaging 17.3 per set. Junior Allyssa Van Wienen added 19 kills, a .731 hitting percentage, three digs, and two blocks. Shelton stepped up and provided 15 kills to the offensive effort as well.
Wiese, sophomore Madie Schider, freshman Audrey Riley, and Mertz all had double-digit digs in the match with 20, 16, 14, and 10, respectively.
Tiffin fell to 10 – 8 overall and 4 – 1 in G‑MAC play after the loss to the Chargers.
The Chargers proved their dominance against Cedarville in three sets in an impressive showing the next day. They won the sets with scores of 25 – 21, 25 – 13, and 25 – 16. The Chargers defense controlled the game with 61 digs, four solo blocks, 11 block assists, and holding the Yellow Jackets to a .073 hitting percentage in the match. Hillsdale led in hitting percent, blocks, digs, and aces in the match.
Wiese and Schider led the defense with 19, and 10 digs in the match. Shelton led the offense while still contributing defensively with a double-double of 10 kills and 13 digs. Van Wienen had a quiet but vital performance with seven kills, three solo blocks, and two block assists. Senior Hannah Gates finished the match with six kills, four total blocks, and a .750 hitting percentage. Mertz added 35 assists, and seven digs, to the team’s impressive match win.
“We have played great teams early on in the season, which helped us to prepare for conference play,” Gravel said. “Each team we play will challenge our team, both mentally and physically. Until our season comes to an end, we expect to be challenged.”
The Chargers will travel to Indianapolis for the Midwest Region Crossover Tournament this weekend. They’re looking to improve upon a defeat from last year’s tournament. Hillsdale will play Rockhurst, Saginaw Valley State University, and Lewis University. Lewis and Rockhurst are both nationally ranked teams.
“We were fortunate to draw one of the toughest schedules for Crossover,” Gravel said. “It will be one of our biggest challenges to date.”