HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover College Panthers celebrated their annual Dig Pink game with a straight set victory over Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Earlham on Wednesday evening, 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-12).
The Blue and Red threw a block party at the net as they finished with a game-high nine blocks, led by freshman Josie McClara (Jamestown, Ind.) with two solo. As a team, the Panthers hit an impressive .330 with a game-high 44 kills. Pacing the way was sophomore Emma Rolf (Lebanon, Ind.) with 17 kills and a .351 hitting percentage.
In the opening set, the Blue and Red surged ahead early as sophomore Maura Dankoski (Fishers, Ind.) led a four-point rally from behind the service line to put HC on top 8-3. With all the momentum, the Panther attack gained confidence as freshman Adrianne Vance (Indianapolis, Ind.) hit back-to-back kills that pushed the advantage to 12-5. Earlham attempted to erase the deficit as a series of long rallies pulled them within 15-10. But the Panther attack prevailed as both Vance and freshman Josie McClara (Jamestown, Ind.) registered kills that propelled HC to the 25-18 set one victory.
Junior Amber Miller (Louisville, Ky.) opened set two from the service line in a major way as she helped the Panthers score the first six points with back-to-back kills from teammates, sophomore Emma Rolf (Lebanon, Ind.) and senior Carlie Burson (Corydon, Ind.). However, Earlham battled back slowly chipping at the differential before finally taking the 11-8 lead. The fierce blocking of the Panther front line deemed huge as they forced a continuation that later resulted in a set tying kill, 13-13. Back-to-back blocks by Burson and McClara capped off an impressive 11-0 Panther run that resulted in a set two, 25-14 advantage.
Set three was much of the same as multiple kills by Rolf and a pair of Earlham miscues gave HC the 4-2 advantage. McClara got in on the action as she connected with sophomore Kelsey Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind.) for another Hanover kill. Ketcham found her groove from behind the service line as she served five straight Panther points to secure the straight set victory, 25-12.
The Blue and Red return to action Saturday, October 26 when they travel to Terre haute, Ind. to take on Rose-Hulman. First serve is set for 1 p.m.