ASHLAND, Ohio – In its home finale and hosting No. 10 Hillsdale, the AU volleyball team put up one of its most valiant efforts of the season, but it fell just short as the Chargers came away with a five-set win, 25-20, 20-25, 20-25, 25-15, 15-9, at Kates Gymnasium on Saturday (Oct. 30) afternoon.
The Chargers (23-1, 17-0 GLIAC) extended the nation's longest winning streak to 22. Both teams put on a defensive clinic in the match as the Eagles limited the Chargers to a .187 hitting percentage. AU hit .145 as a team.
Ashland (16-10, 9-8 GLIAC) dropped the first set, 25-20, and was limited to a .029 hitting percentage. The Chargers out-scored the Eagles, 6-0, to start the match, but the Eagles climbed all the way back to take a 9-8 lead, mostly with freshman Baley Bernthisel (Grand Rapids, Ohio/Otsego) on the serve. Hillsdale regained the lead at 11-10 and did not give it up again.
The Eagles did not back down in the second set, opening with a 12-2 run, including an 8-0 run with senior Lauren Schweitzer (Dublin, Ohio/Bishop Watterson), playing in her final home match, on the serve. Ashland never trailed in the set and went on to win, 25-20.
The third set was a back-and-forth affair with each team going on key runs. Ashland took a 15-9 lead after a 6-0 run with junior Arian Martin (Independence, Ohio) serving. The Chargers went on an 11-5 run to tie the set at 20-20 after an Ashlee Crowder kill. But with freshman Susannah Jonas (Harrison, Ohio) serving, the Eagles got five straight kills – two from senior Sophie Paddock (Girard, Ohio/Hubbard), two by freshman Kate Eckels (Loveland, Ohio/Mt. Notre Dame) and one by sophomore Crystal Elliott (Canal Winchester, Ohio) to close the set. Eckels had nine kills in the set, while Martin had nine digs.
The Chargers picked up their attack in the fourth set, hitting .333 and getting six kills from Crowder. The set was tied at 6-6, but Hillsdale went on a 19-9 run to close it out.
Ashland led the fifth set, 4-2, with kills by Eckels and junior Anesia Benton (Lima, Ohio/Senior). Hillsdale scored three straight to take a 5-4 lead before Benton smashed home another to tie it at 5-5. Ashland would have just one kill after that point as the Chargers closed on a 10-4 run.
Eckels led the Eagles with 19 kills in 61 attacks with eight errors. Paddock had 10 kills with just two errors in 25 attacks. Benton hit .235 with 14 kills. Elliott had a team-high 44 assists.
Four Eagles had double-digit dig totals, including Martin (28), Elliott (15), Schweitzer (11) and Eckels (10). Bernthisel had four total blocks (two solo, two assisted) and four aces. Paddock had two solo blocks and three assisted.
Crowder led the Chargers with 20 total kills as the only HC player in double-figures. Apryl Schmucker finished with a match-high 48 assists and Sydney Dow led Hillsdale with 26 digs.
The Eagles will now hit the road for their final three regular season matches, beginning on Wednesday (Nov. 3) when they take on nonconference foe California (Pa.). The match is set to start at 7 p.m.