Volleyball advances to third straight HCAC Tournament Championship

Emily Ertel goes up for attack


HANOVER, Ind. – Three Hanover women's volleyball players recorded double-digit kills and a trio of late-set rallies helped engineer a 3-1 victory in the HCAC Tournament Semifinals, against Bluffton, Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers (25-5) have now won 14 consecutive matches and avenge losses to Bluffton in each of the last two HCAC Tournament Championship matches. Hanover secured its third straight conference tournament finals appearance, at home, defeating the Beavers (18-11) in four sets, 25-19, 22-25, 25-23 and 25-20.

Senior Emily Ertel (North Vernon, Ind.) led the Panthers with 13 kills, recording 10 over the second and third frames. Also adding double-digit kill efforts were senior Kristin Goben (Finchville, Ky.) and junior Claire Dennis (Bloomington, Ind.), with 12 and 10 respectively. Dennis and Goben also combined for 13 total blocks.

With 33 digs, senior Monique Huynh (Indianapolis, Ind.) led a group of three Panthers with at least 10 digs in the match. Sophomore Ally Williams (Fountaintown, Ind.) pitched in with 17, while Ertel added 15.

Juniors Abby Crump (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Haley Alexander (Martinsville, Ind.) combined for 44 of HC's 53 assists. Crump led the team with 27.

In the first set, Hanover trailed early on, but rallied to take its first lead of the set at 18-17. The scoreboard advantage for HC came during an 8-0 run, which gave them a 22-17 lead. Overall, Hanover closed the set on an 11-2 scoring spurt, winning 25-19. Dennis posted five of her eight kills in the opening frame.

In the second set, again, it was Bluffton who took early possession of the lead at 13-6. Hanover however, responded to tie the frame at 16-all. A 13-3 run, capped by a pair of kills from Ertel, gave the Blue and Red a 19-16 edge on the scoreboard. The Beavers, who had won the previous four HCAC Tournaments, would respond with a run of their own before tying the match at 1-1, winning the second set, 25-22.

Hanover and Bluffton traded points for most of the third set, as the two sides were deadlocked at 23-23. A key block from Dennis and Goben gave HC a one-point advantage and an attacking error by BU on the next rally secured the 25-23 victory for HC.

The Panthers jumped out to an 8-4 lead early in the fourth frame. Bluffton however, would not let HC run away with the frame, tying it at 11-all, before taking a 15-12 lead. With the set tied at 18-18, Hanover rallied to score seven of the final nine points, taking the match 3-1, after a 25-20 decision.

Hanover will now square off against the No. 2 or 3 seed, Rose-Hulman or Transylvania, in Sunday's HCAC Tournament Championship. The winner of the 1 p.m. match will receive the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

Contact: Tyler Jester