The Hillsdale College Chargers finished the regular season undefeated in conference play for the second year in a row last weekend after defeating Lake Erie and Ursuline. Hot off of their regular season success, the Chargers began the G‑MAC Championship Tournament on Tuesday with a statement win over Malone, eliminating the team from championship contention.
Hillsdale remains at number 11 in the national rankings for the third week in a row and looks forward to a berth in the national tournament come December. The Chargers aim to improve on a first round loss in last seasons tournament in which they fell to number one seed Drury University.
The tournament win over Malone marked the 500th career victory for head coach Chris Gravel who has served in the position for 24 years. Gravel is one of the winningest volleyball coaches in school history and is looking to win G‑MAC Coach of the Year for what would be the second year in a row.
In their final games of the regular season, the Chargers were their usual selves, making light work of Lake Erie and Ursuline College.
They defeated Lake Erie in four sets on Friday, outscoring their opponent 25 – 8 in the final set after narrowly winning two and falling to the Storm in the second. The Chargers led in all statistical categories in the match with a .280 team hitting percentage, 10 blocks, 72 digs, and three service aces.
The Chargers traveled to Pepper Pike, Ohio, on Saturday to take on the Ursuline Arrows in the team’s last regular season game of the year. They won in three sets, outscoring the Arrows by 26 points. The Chargers again led in all statistical categories with a .283 team hitting percentage, five blocks, 58 digs, and six service aces.
Junior Allyssa Van Wienen led the Chargers offense over the weekend though she sat out of the team’s last game against Ursuline. She amassed an impressive 15 kills with a .400 hitting percentage in only four sets of play.
Senior Taylor Wiese led the defense with 47 digs on the weekend. During the three-set win over Ursuline, she averaged nine digs per set for the second time in two weeks. Sophomore Karoline Shelton performed extremely well on both sides of the ball over the weekend adding 20 kills, 16 digs, and a .324 hitting percentage.
A number of freshman players had the chance to step up to the plate in the final game of the season and took advantage of the opportunity. Freshman Megan Kolp set a career high with eight kills in the match and an impressive .667 hitting percentage. Freshman Madeline Zenas set a career high in assists with 19 in the match.
“I am confident that if the team continues to challenge themselves mentally and physically in the upcoming weeks, we will see ourselves grow and accomplish the goals we set out for ourselves,” Gravel said.
After an impressive weekend of the play, the Chargers returned home to begin the G‑MAC conference championship tournament. In their first match of the tournament versus the Malone Pioneers, the Chargers won in four sets. The match was close in all of the sets with scores of 28 – 26, 25 – 19, 23 – 25, and 25 – 21, respectively. The Chargers led the Pioneers in hitting percentage with .190, blocks with 11, and service aces with 10. The teams tied for digs in the match with 90 each.
Van Wienen led the Charger offense with 16 kills and a .457 hitting percentage in the match. Senior Hannh Gates put together an impressive performance when it mattered most and finished with 12 kills, one of which won the match. Shelton stepped up on both sides of the ball adding 11 kills and 21 digs with her second double-double of the week.
On the defensive side of the ball, Wiese performed extremely well with 30 digs. Freshman Audrey Riley had 12 digs and junior Madie Shider had 11.
The Chargers’ win over Malone pushes the team to the second round of the tournament where they will face number four seed Kentucky Wesleyan. The Chargers will hold home court for the remainder of the tournament.