Volleyball was played at a high level inside the Dawn Tibebtts Potter Arena Saturday afternoon. And it was Hillsdale College who played just a little bit better and reinforced its spot in first place.
The Chargers beat a resilient Tiffin University squad 3-0 in a match far closer than the set score indicated. The win was Hillsdale's 24th in a row in Great Midwest Athletic Conference play, and makes the team 12-3 overall and 9-0 in the league this year.
Hillsdale now holds a two-game lead over Findlay and Tiffin in the overall G-MAC standings, and has wins over both teams already this season.
The Chargers won three closely played sets by scores of 25-19, 27-25 and 25-21. This match was distinguished by the Dragons' amazing ability to dig up hard-hit attacks by the Chargers, and Hillsdale's ability to turn it up a notch at crunch time in all three sets.
Tiffin did a great job of covering the court and making good plays off strong attack attempts from the Chargers thorughout the match, even getting two "pancakes" on the same rally in the third set.
Set three was tied at 21 when Hillsdale pulled away, scoring the final four points of the match. Allyssa Van Wienen got the rally started with a kill, followed by one from senior Kara Vyletel. Van Wienen and Lindsey Mertz teamed up on a block to make it 24-21, while Mertz registered a solo block to polish off the team's nine straight G-MAC win this year.
While Tiffin was terrific as a team on defense, it was Hillsdale's libero who was once again the headliner. Junior Taylor Wiese was superb once again, logging 30 digs to lead all players. In two matches this weekend, Wiese became the first player in Hillsdale history - since the advent of the rally score format in 2001 - to record back-to-back 30-dig matches.
What made that statistic even more remarkable is that Wiese had 30-plus digs in two straight matches that each went the minimum three sets. She averaged a mind-boggling 10.2 digs per set over the past two weekends, and her quickness, anticipation and athleticism all combined to give Hillsdale high-level play from her critical position.
Vyletel and fellow senior Paige VanderWall returned to the form that's made them the G-MAC's most productive 1-2 offensive duo. VanderWall had 16 kills with a .438 hitting percentage in the win. She also had 10 digs and a service ace.
Vyletel was swinging it with authority throughout the match and had 15 kills and a .312 hitting percentage.
Van Wienen added 10 kills, 4 digs and 2 block assists while freshman Karoline Shelton made a strong showing with 7 kills and 6 digs. Mertz had 43 assists and 8 digs for Hillsdale.
PHOTO: MaryKate Drews