by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Lady Jackets (15-12, 10-3 G-MAC) dropped a pivotal G-MAC showdown against the Hillsdale Chargers (21-3, 11-2 G-MAC) on Friday night in four sets. The loss was a setback for Cedarville, as they dropped a full game behind Hillsdale to third place in the conference.
Hillsdale fought to win 25-15, 24-26, 25-21 and 25-18 in the match.
Senior middle hitter Gabby Olson earned 12 kills and nine blocks in the match. Senior outside hitter Krissy Pratt added nine kills and 13 digs and junior outside hitter Taylor Wilkerson had seven kills.
“We didn’t play well tonight,” head coach Doug Walters said. “Hillsdale is on a tear right now which is great. But our service was not good and our setting was not good either.”
Hillsdale managed an early gap over Cedarville, taking an 8-4 lead over the Lady Jackets. Three kills in four points by Hillsdale lead Cedarville to call its first timeout.
Cedarville went on a 5-1 run to knot the set at nine. One more point gave the Lady Jackets a 10-9 lead which motivated Hillsdale to answer with its first timeout.
Hillsdale used some inopportune bounces to leap to a 17-13 lead later in the set. In response, Cedarville called its second timeout of the set.
Continual mental lapses and miscommunications on the Lady Jackets’ end handed Hillsdale the first set. Hillsdale won the set 25-15 and totaled 17 kills compared to Cedarville’s six.
Walters felt like the first set could have easily gone the Lady Jackets’ way, but that miscommunications held the team back.
“Our freshmen looked like freshmen again, and that is something we cannot have this time of year,” Walters said.
Hillsdale opened the second set with a quick 6-2 lead. The Lady Jackets looked to be in danger of losing their second straight set right off, but battled back by using two consecutive blocks by junior outside hitter and a kill from Willow to tie the game.
With the game evened at seven, Hillsdale took its first timeout and Cedarville was back in the set.
The two teams paced each other to the midway point, as the set was tied at 12. Two denials from junior outside hitter Faith Ferris on the same point allowed the Lady Jackets’ to extend their slim lead to two late in the set, as Cedarville led 21-19. Hillsdale called a timeout at that junction, its final of the set.
Cedarville managed to take a three point lead, the largest lead for either team since Hillsdale led 6-2. The Lady Jackets squandered the 23-20 lead, and Hillsdale scored four unanswered the go up 24-23.
Cedarville called its second timeout at the crucial point in the set.
Walters said he told his team to focus on better passing and getting back to the way they had been playing during the timeout.
The Lady Jackets mustered enough energy to take out Hillsdale from there. An Olson service ace ended the set as Cedarville won 26-24. Pratt and Olson led the way with three kills.
Cedarville broke out to a 4-0 lead in the third set by way of two straight service aces from freshman setter Sierra Schuitema to start the set. A 6-1 run by Hillsdale put the Chargers back on top 6-5, and Cedarville called a timeout.
The Lady Jackets went on a 6-1 run later in the set, which put them back on top, 13-11. Hillsdale called a timeout to stop the run, its first of the set.
The Chargers were able to retaliate after the timeout and took a 17-15 lead. This led Cedarville to call its first timeout of the set.
The Lady Jackets stayed in the set as long as they could, but Hillsdale was able to inch away to take the third set 25-21.
The Chargers continued to own momentum into the fourth, as they took an 8-5 lead early in the set. Cedarville burned its first timeout early to gain some momentum back.
Hillsdale continued to build its lead, paramounting at 18-12 later in the fourth set. Cedarville was forced to take its final timeout of the set, and needed to come back quickly in order to push the match to a fifth and final set.
The Lady Jackets were unable to mount a comeback in the fourth set and dropped the set 25-18. Olson and sophomore hitter Brooke Blattner each had four kills in the set.
The Lady Jackets will welcome Findlay to the Callan Athletic Center tomorrow at 1 p.m. for a critical G-MAC match. Findlay is the top team in the conference, sitting at 21-4 and 12-1 in the conference.
“It’s not gonna get any easier against Findlay,” Walters said. “We have got to get past our youthful mistakes and get out and play like we know we can.”
Tim Miller is a sophomore marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, sipping Dunkin Donuts coffee and striving to be the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.