RICHMOND, Ind. – The 42 kills, the .320 hitting percentage, and 49 team digs formed the storyline behind Earlham College's commanding 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-11) win over Anderson University in Wednesday's Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Volleyball Tournament first round match.
However, it was a nine-serve run by senior Megan Hedinger to open the third set that punctuated the Quakers' dominant performance over the Ravens at the Druley Performance Gym, effectively cinching the win before the set was even half over.
Hedinger dropped nine straight serves deep into left-side back corner of the Anderson court, vaulting Earlham into a quick 10-0 lead in set three and completing the sweep of the over-powered Ravens. Two of Hedinger's serves went for aces, with the remaining seven flummoxing the Ravens who were unable to receive Hedinger's serve and get in-system for a quality attack.
By the time, Hedinger's serving run was through, it was apparent to all that the Ravens' proverbial goose was cooked.
From there, the Quakers held at least a double-digit lead the rest of the way while hitting .440 (14-3-25) in the set. First year Abbey Zanatta charted five kills in set three with first year Sarah Dickman adding four of her own, while junior Lauren Jackson had 12 assists running the Earlham offense.
The prelude to that dominating third set was a crescendo for the Quakers.
Earlham hit .250 (15-5-40) in the first set led by senior Ashleigh Burton's six terminations. Dickman had five kills, with Jackson charting 15 assists and Hedinger turning up seven digs in the frame. The see-saw first set saw five lead changes and 12 ties, before back-to-back kills by Dickman and Burton allowed Earlham to eke out a 23-21 lead. An attack error by Anderson's Kennedy Thomas put Earlham on set point, and Burton's sixth kill of the set gave the frame to the Quakers, 25-21.
The Quakers had to rally from a deficit in set two, using Angelica Carpio's devastating jump serve to go on a four-point run midway through the set to take a 16-14 lead. After a pair of side-out points, Julia Stewart's serve triggered another three-point Quaker run that left Earlham with a 20-15 advantage.
Five points later, Caroline Mulvihill's kill got the Quakers to set point, and a Raven attack error off Jackson's serve gave the second set to Earlham, 25-17.
Earlham hit .312 (13-3-32) in set two, with Dickman charting six kills in the frame. Jackson tallied 12 assists, while Carpio dug up four balls on defense.
Dickman finished the match with a team-high 15 kills, while Burton and Zanatta logged nine and eight respectively. Hedinger tallied 12 digs for the Earlham cause, while Mulvihill turned up 10 digs. The Quakers charted 42 kills on their 97 attacks with a mere 11 errors.
Jackson finished with 39 assists while running the Quaker offense, putting the junior from Tonganoxie, Kan., over the 3,000-assist mark for her career. Jackson now has 3,067 career assists, second among Earlham all-time assist leaders behind Jen Maure's (1997-2000) 3,414 career assists, and making Jackson just the second player in program history to go over the 3,000-assist mark.
Anderson was held to just .091 hitting for the match, with 28 kills on 99 attacks with 19 errors. Olivia Rice paced the Ravens with nine kills, while Kylie Osborne recorded eight terminations. Kaycie Gates charted 25 assists while running the Raven offense, and Brooke Troyer had a team-best 11 digs.
The win over Anderson marked a triumph for Earlham in its first post-season appearance since joining the HCAC in 2010. The Quakers will now advance to the 2018 HCAC Volleyball Championship semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 3, in Lexington, Ky., on the campus of Transylvania University. The Quakers will face second-seeded Rose-Hulman in Saturday's second semifinal at 5:00 p.m., following the Transylvania-Bluffton semifinal at 2:00 p.m.
For more information about Earlham women's volleyball, visit the online home of Earlham College athletics at www.GoEarlham.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Earlham athletics news by following Earlham Quakers on Facebook (Earlham Quakers Athletics), Twitter (@EarlhamQuakers), and Instagram (EarlhamQuakers).