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Spec­tators watch the vol­leyball team in person for the first time since COVID-19. | Hannah Cote

This past week the Hillsdale College vol­leyball team came out vic­to­rious against both con­ference and non-con­ference teams, main­taining endurance in the first three-game weekend of the season.

Senior middle hitter Allyssa Van Wienen made history both offen­sively and defen­sively this week as she hit her 1000th career kill, and won her first ever G‑MAC Defensive Award of the Week.

“A thousand kills is a huge tes­tament to the skill of the people around me,” Van Wienen said. “The only reason I even had 1000-plus oppor­tu­nities to get a kill was because my team­mates were con­stantly making great plays that allowed me to get those kills. I wouldn’t even be close to where I am today without any of them.”

The Chargers’ vic­to­rious streak led them to receiving the No. 1 DII rank for the first time in Hillsdale history, though this doesn’t change any­thing about their energy or work, head coach Chris Gravel said. 

“The ranking has no to little effect,” Gravel said. “It’s important to realize rankings are about what you have done in the past. Today is a brand new day, and whether we are No. 1 or No. 21, the approach is the same. We respect our opponent and allow them to make us better as a team.”

The com­bi­nation of both in and out of con­ference game-play allowed the team to expe­rience a variety of com­pe­tition, Van Wienen said.

“This past weekend was a good test against some non-con­ference teams,” Van Wienen said. “The more teams we are able to play against, the more variety we get to face, the more pre­pared we can be for future com­pe­tition.”

Senior setter Lindsey Mertz said that playing three matches in one week for the first time all season has helped them prepare for the intensity of future tour­na­ments.

“To win the con­ference, regional, and national tour­na­ments, you must play excep­tionally well three times in a week,” Mertz said. “This week we had an oppor­tunity to practice com­peting for three matches in one week, and it helped us to men­tally and phys­i­cally be better pre­pared for our con­ference tour­nament this year and for any other post-season tour­na­ments we might have this season or in the future.”

The team was able to gauge exactly where they’re at not only in the con­ference, but in the entire region, Mertz said. The team is reaching new mile­stones with dif­ferent indi­vidual and team achieve­ments, and they are looking forward to more intense com­pe­tition this weekend.

The Chargers will compete against No. 13 Findlay Uni­versity, the fourth-straight G‑MAC regular season cham­pions, on Friday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. They will also play Tiffin Uni­versity on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.

“Everyone is excited heading into the weekend,” Van Wienen said. “Findlay is one of our better known rivals which brings out more of our fierce-type energy. This week we’re going to focus on improving our game from last week, taking those little steps every day to adjust a few things that need work and to keep getting better at the things we have been doing well.”