Volleyball opens HCAC play with 3-0 win over Bluffton

Claire Dennis serving

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover volleyball team opened Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play in winning fashion Saturday afternoon, knocking off Bluffton at home, 3-0.

The Panthers (13-5, 1-0 HCAC) have now 19 straight HCAC regular season games and avenge their home losses to the Beavers in each of the last two conference tournament championships. Hanover earned a 25-23, 26-24 and 25-17 decision Saturday, which was good enough for the team's eighth 3-0 win of the season.

Senior Kelsey Brandvik (Indianapolis, Ind.) led a balanced offensive attack, as she recorded eight of her team high nine kills in the first two sets.

Adding eight kills apiece were senior Kristin Goben (Finchville, Ky.) and junior Margo Main (Ann Arbor, Mich.). Goben hit .353, while adding a pair of blocks defensively, and Main recorded a .471 hitting percentage.

Juniors Haley Alexander (Martinsville, Ind.) and Abby Crump (Indianapolis, Ind.) combined for 37 of the team's 41 assists, with Alexander posting a team-best 19 helpers.

Defensively, Hanover was led in digs by senior Monique Huynh (Indianapolis, Ind.) with 19. Sophomore Claire Dennis (Bloomington, Ind.) added 12 digs, while also recording seven kills in 11 attacks (.636).

Dennis and senior Emily Ertel (North Vernon, Ind.) each registered three total blocks to lead the defensive effort at the net. Ertel also added seven kills of her own.

Both sides enjoyed multiple mini-scoring spurts in the opening set, which left the match tied at 22-all. A Bluffton (9-9, 0-1 HCAC) attacking error and a two kills from Main secured the opening frame for HC, 25-23.

The Beavers appeared to be on the brink of tying the match at 1-1, as they led late in the second set, 20-17. Hanover came storming back to take a one-point lead before a HC serving error tied the set at 24-24. The Panther defense then forced consecutive attacking errors to win the set, 26-24.

The Blue and Red cruised for much of the third set, as a kill from Ertel capped a 10-4 scoring run, giving the Panthers an 18-11 advantage. Hanover led by as many as nine after the scoring spurt en route to a 25-17 set decision.

Hanover hit .311 as a team, while also holding Bluffton to just a .115 percentage. Defensively, HC enjoyed a 6-4 edge in total team blocks, while also adding six service aces to BU's five. Brandvik led the team with four aces.

The Panthers will continue conference play at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 4, as the team travels to face Transylvania.

Contact: Tyler Jester