HANOVER, Ind. – After reviewing the returning defensive specialists and setters last week, we conclude our season preview series of the Hanover volleyball team with the middle and outside hitters.
The Panthers are coming off a record-setting season under head coach Peter Preocanin, one which saw the squad capture just its second NCAA Division III National Tournament appearance in program history. Hanover finished 2017 with a 26-6 overall mark, including its third straight year with a 9-0 record in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. The Blue and Red have recently been selected as the favorite again this fall, garnering the top spot in the HCAC coaches' preseason poll.
With the loss of a talented group of upperclassmen, both offensively and defensively, Hanover will look to rely on senior Claire Dennis (Bloomington, Ind.) to lead the way in 2018. Dennis, a two-time HCAC first team selection, tied for the team high in points per set last fall, 2.9. As a junior, Dennis was also the conference leader in blocks per set, 1.35, as she paced the Panther team to a third-place national ranking in the statistical category (2.24/set).
Offensively, Dennis posted the fourth-best hitting percentage in the HCAC, .298, en route to nearly two kills per set. In her first three seasons with the Blue and Red, Dennis has 369 kills, 306 blocks and 582 total points, while also tallying over two digs per set.
Joining Dennis in the middle hitting position is Emily Diehr (Greenfield, Ind.), who is coming off a 2017 campaign that saw her receive HCAC All-Freshman accolades. Diehr appeared in 21 matches, accumulating 69 kills, 24 blocks and a .369 hitting percentage. During her freshman season, Diehr posted two matches with seven kills.
Junior Madie Snyder (Boonville, Ind.) returns at the outside hitting position. Snyder posted 45 total kills and 1.32 per set last season. For her career, Snyder has 85 kills in 72 matches played.
Additional hitting returners include sophomores Blaise Chaney (Mason, Ohio) and Haley Stults (Bloomington, Ind.). Chaney appeared in 12 sets over eight matches last season, recording 20 kills and 10 blocks. A bevy of newcomers will also look to compete for playing time right away.
Hanover opens the season with four games over two days, spanning Friday, Aug. 31 and Saturday, Sept. 1. Included in the season-opening tournament, held in Columbus, Ohio, will be a contest with Otterbein (Ohio), who is receiving votes in the national top 25 coaches' poll.
Contact: Tyler Jester