Volleyball's historic season comes to an end in HCAC tournament semifinals

Volleyball's historic season comes to an end in HCAC tournament semifinals

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Earlham volleyball rounds out their historic season ranked number three in the Heartland Athletic Collegiate Conference(HCAC). Their run ended after a 3-1 loss to Rose-Hulman in the semifinals of the HCAC tournament.

Earlham was all cylinders, leading set one from the onset. The Quakers did well in letting Rose-Hulman make their mistakes which persisted throughout the game giving Earlham free points. Each time Rose-Hulman came close to a comeback, Sarah Dickman did what she does best, spiking the ball in the right place at the right time. In the end, Earlham would have a .263 hitting percentage for the set, winning 26-24.

Rose-Hulman increased their presence at the net beginning in the second set which slowed down Earlham's offense. The remaining three sets Earlham's highest hitting percentage was .179.

Earlham did not go down without a fight. As the match progressed the errors increased on the court which was costly, especially in a situation where one or two plays made the difference between winning a set and not. Between miscommunication on the court and errors in the technical aspect of the game, the amount of points given to Rose-Hulman became insurmountable to make a comeback.

Ashleigh Burton, Caroline Mulvihill and Sarah Dickman were the primary offensive weapons Earlham utilized in this matchup. All three earned kills in the double-digits with 12, 15 and 10 respectively.

During the match Earlham's defense played strong and with ball awareness. They did well in extending plays after Rose-Hulman's blocking at the net increased and recognizing open spaces on their side of the court in order to effectively make plays in those areas when they were attacked, Julia Stewart, Megan Hedinger and again Caroline Mulvihill led this team in digs on the game. Each tallied 11, 17, and 13 respectively.

Statistically these teams were evenly matched. They had similar numbers in digs, assists, kills and aces, but the drastic difference was in attack errors, where Earlham's total doubled the amount of Rose-Hulman's.

Throughout the course of the season records were broken and personal accomplishments were achieved. As a team, this is the first time Earlham has appeared in the post-season, and the highest finish ever in the HCAC. There was no shortage of individual accolades either. Senior outside hitter Ashleigh Burton reached the 1000 kill mark. She is one of only six Quakers in history to accomplish this, and she ends her career with a total of 1245 kills. Megan Hedinger a senior libero also earned a spot in the record books, breaking Earlham's all-time dig record of 1803. Her career concludes with 1927 digs.

The turn around of this program is the work of not only the team for the way they practice and invest themselves into the game, but of its leaders. The five seniors were voices of stability and experience throughout the season. Head Coach Lauren Horton and Assistant Coach Fatima Dacosta put in effort and dedication to get the program to this moment, and as exceptional in coaching them through the moment.

The Quakers look forward to carrying this momentum into next  season with both their young and experienced talent. They finish their regular season with a record of 20-13, and 6-3 in the HCAC. In the postseason, the Quakers swept Anderson 3-0 at home.