The volleyball environment at Cedarville University has long been known as one of the more challenging ones for any visiting team. The team is typically talented and the fans are loud.
None of that mattered to the Hillsdale College volleyball team Saturday afternoon.
The Chargers (14-2 overall, 5-0 G-MAC) dispatched the Yellow Jackets 3-0 to take over sole possession of first place in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Hillsdale, ranked 17th in the nation, won sets by scores of 25-21, 25-13 and 25-16.
In Friday night's win at Tiffin, Hillsdale's offense operated at peak efficiency as the team hit .443 for the match. On Saturday it was the Charger defense that controlled the match, holding Cedarville to a team hitting percentage of .073 in the victory. While the Yellow Jackets put down 32 kills, they committed 23 hitting errors. Combine that with Hillsdale's blocking - 4 solo blocks and 11 block assists and 61 digs as a team, and the Chargers effectively shut Cedarville down, not allowing the home team to build any kind of offensive momentum at any point in the match.
Cedarville executed a game plan where it would send two blockers after Charger middle hitter Allyssa Van Wienen, who has dominated all competition this year. That opened up opportunities for other players, most notably sophomore Karoline Shelton, who put together a fine all-around match.
Shelton recorded a double-double with a team-high 10 kills to go along with 13 digs. She added 3 service aces and 2 block assists in a match where she controbuted mightily to the team's success in every respect.
Sophomore Maggie DePorre had her best offensive match of the season, taking advantage of the attention the defense was paying to Van Wienen. She finished with 9 kills and a hefty .562 hitting percentage.
Van Wienen still found ways to impact the match, getting 7 kills, 3 solo blocks and 2 block assists. Senior Hannah gates stepped in and was effective in the middle with 6 kills, a .750 hitting percentage and 4 total blocks.
Junior setter Lindsey Mertz capped a brilliant weekend with 35 assists and 7 digs, helping the Chargers to a .302 hitting percentage as a team.
Hillsdale will head into next weekend's Midwest Regional Crossover as the No. 1 seed in the G-MAC and will face the No. 2 seeds from the GLIAC and GLVC and the No. 6 seed from the GLVC.
PHOTO: Victoria Addis