Panthers travel to Ohio for season-opening tournament

Team photo


HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover volleyball team opens the 2018 season this weekend with a trip to Central Ohio, featuring four matches in two days.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE: The Panthers open the new campaign against fellow 2017 NCAA Tournament qualifier and co-hosts this weekend, Otterbein (Ohio), at 2 p.m., Friday, Aug. 31. Hanover will then square off against the other host, Capital (Ohio), at 6 p.m. Friday. Both matches will take place at Otterbein on Day One.

Day Two opens with a familiar non-conference foe for Hanover in Muskingum (Ohio). A contest with Adrian (Mich.) concludes the opening weekend of play. Saturday's matches, noon and 4 p.m. respectively, will be held on Capital's campus. More information on this weekend's tournament, including live stat and video links can be found above.

2017 RECAP: Hanover is coming off a memorable 2017 season, one that saw the squad match its highest win total under head coach Peter Preocanin, going 26-6 overall. The Panthers won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship for the third consecutive season and added the conference tournament title as well. With the HCAC Tournament championship, HC received its first bid into the NCAA Division III National Tournament since 2007.

PRESEASON FAVORITES: In what should be a competitive conference race in 2018, the league's head coaches selected Hanover as the preseason favorite. The Panthers received three first place votes and 91 total points to top Transylvania for the first place position. The Pioneers received 90 points and a poll-high four fist place votes. Others receiving first place votes were Bluffton (1) and Rose-Hulman (2), who finished with 79 and 76 points respectively. More details on the preseason poll can be found here.

BLOCK PARTY: The Blue and Red seemed to host a block party at the net night in and night out last fall, finishing the 2017 season among the national leaders in total blocks and blocks per set. Hanover averaged 2.24 blocks per frame, which led the conference and ranked third nationally. With 10 double-digit block performances, the Panthers' season total of 255.5 was good enough for a top 15 national ranking as well.

SENIORS SHINING: Hanover will have a pair of seniors to lean on this season in Abby Crump (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Claire Dennis (Bloomington, Ind.). Crump has posted over 500 assists in each of her first three years at Hanover. The fourth-year setter logged 591 helpers last year, one off a career high, and is among the conference leaders returning this fall.

Dennis, a two-time HCAC first team selection, was always seemingly the host of the aforementioned "block parties." The senior paced the Panthers and the conference in blocks per set, 1.35. She also tied for the team high in points per set, 2.90, while nearly hitting .300 as a junior.

More in-depth information on the returning athletes can be found in the season preview links listed below.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS: The Panthers will face three institutions from the Ohio Athletic Conference this weekend (Otterbein, Capital and Muskingum). Hanover produced a 3-4 record against the OAC last fall, including a 3-0 win over Capital and a 3-0 setback to Muskingum.

Otterbein headlines the opening weekend class, as the Cardinals won the OAC regular season and tournament titles last season en route to a NCAA Tournament second round appearance and a 30-4 overall record. The Cardinals are also receiving votes in the national top 25 preseason poll.

Adrian met Hanover last season as well, with the Blue and Red rallying from a 2-1 deficit to win 3-2. The Bulldogs finished the 2017 campaign 7-20 overall and have been picked to finish seventh in the always talented Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association this fall.

Preview No. 1: Defensive Specialists & Setters

Preview No. 2: Middle & Outside Hitters

Contact: Tyler Jester