The two best volleyball teams in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference met in a heavyweight showdown at the University of Findlay's Croy Gymnasium Tuesday night, where regular volleyball scoring standards weren't sufficient to declare a winner.
The Oilers, undefeated on the season, edged Hillsdale College 3-2 in a match that was about as evenly matched as one can be. The Chargers are 7-2 on the season and will host Cedarville Friday night in its first-ever home G-MAC contest.
Three of Tuesday night's five sets required "extra points" in that the winning team in a particular set needed more than the standard 25 – or in the case of set 5, 15 – points to win. Teams need to win a set by a minimum of two points, and that threshold was met in the second, fourth and fifth sets of this titanic matchup.
Hillsdale got off to good starts in each of the first four sets, only to see the Oilers rally late to win sets 1 and 2 by scores of 25-20 and 26-24. The Chargers led 15-10 in the first set, but Findlay's 15-5 set-ending run helped it take a lead.
Set 2 was even more frustrating for the Chargers, who led 24-20, needing just one point to tie the match up. But again, Findlay finished strong, scoring six straight to take a 2-0 lead.
Hillsdale took command once again early in set 3, only this time it held on to finish with a 25-19 win. Set 4 saw a return to back-and-forth play by both teams, each having a chance to win after the score was 24-24. Riding the hot play of juniors Kara Vyletel and Paige VanderWall, the Chargers closed out set 4 with a 29-27 win.
Neither team led by more than 2 points at any stage in a dramatic fifth set – Hillsdale held a 2-0 lead, which was the biggest enjoyed by either side until Findlay closed out the win with its 16th point of the set, winning 16-14.
Statistically, the teams were just as evenly matched. The Chargers hit .198 as a team compared to .195 for Findlay. Hillsdale had six more kills (66-60) but seven more hitting errors (31-24). Findlay's top two offensive weapons, Amanda Winner and Izzy Murphy, combined for 38 kills, getting 21 and 17 respectively. Vyletel and VanderWall combined for 36, picking up 18 apiece.
Charger freshman setter Lindsey Mertz had 54 assists, while junior middle hitter Christine Siddall set career-highs with 3 solo blocks and 9 kills. Freshman Maddie Clark added a career-high 7 kills, while sophomore libero Taylor Wiese had a team-high 22 digs.
These two teams will meet one more time, in the regular season finale, at Hillsdale Friday, Nov. 10.