Panthers hit past Manchester in regular season finale

Claire Dennis

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover volleyball team closed out the 2018 regular season in winning fashion Sunday afternoon, defeating Manchester in three sets, 25-17, 25-15, 25-21.

The Panthers finished the regular season with a three-match winning streak to improve to 15-13 overall. Hanover also tallied a 5-4 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference record, good enough to earn a bid into this week's postseason tournament.

A day after logging a season-high hitting percentage, .329, Hanover topped the mark again Sunday with a .352 team clip. Leading the way was senior Claire Dennis (Bloomington, Ind.), who posted 10 kills in 10 total attacks, a 1.000 hitting percentage. Dennis totaled 14 points in the match, as she added a team-high seven assisted blocks.

Adding eight kills, 14 assists, six digs and four blocks over three sets was freshman Kelsey Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind.). Ketcham was also one of five players with a hitting percentage above .300.

Junior Carlie Burson (New Salisbury, Ind.) and sophomore Blaise Chaney (Mason, Ohio) added seven and six kills, respectively. Both players were also in on a pair of blocks defensively.

Pacing the Panthers with 20 assists was senior Abby Crump (Indianapolis, Ind.), who also pitched in four digs, two service aces and two kills. Junior Ally Williams (Fountaintown, Ind.) had HC's only other two aces, as she led the team with 12 digs as well.

Dennis had a strong opening set, four kills and four blocks, as the Panthers cruised to a 25-17 decision. Hanover scored the opening three points of the frame and another 3-0 run put them in front 12-9. The Blue and Red never trailed after the second mini-spurt, extending the lead to as many as eight points in the final margin.

The duo of Dennis and Chaney controlled the second set, combining for seven of 15 kills, with HC hitting a match-high .444 in the game. Trailing early on, a 6-0 scoring run put HC in front, 14-9. The Panthers scored the final four points of the set as well, capped by two Burson kills, to win 25-15.

In the final set, Hanover found itself trailing 15-14. A quick 4-0 spurt though, put the Blue and Red in front, 18-15. Manchester (7-18, 3-6 HCAC) would get within one point on numerous occasions late but HC logged the final three points, including another Burson kill to win 25-21.

The Panthers' conference mark earned them the No. 5 seed in this week's HCAC Tournament. Hanover will look to defend their 2017 championship when they open tournament play at Bluffton at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 31. The winner will then face the No. 1 seed, Transylvania, this weekend. The Pioneers are set to host the semifinals and championship matches on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 3 and 4.

Contact: Tyler Jester