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S. Nathaniel Grime | Col­legian

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.”