Bluffton 3, Franklin 0
Beavers nail down berth in HCAC tourney with 3-0 win over Franklin
October 28, 2008
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University volleyball team dominated Franklin in the opener and went on to a convincing three-set win over the Grizzlies on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. With the victory Bluffton is guaranteed of its first winning season since the 2003 squad went 17-10. It also earned the Beavers a slot in the upcoming six-team Heartland Conference tournament that is slated to start on Saturday, Nov. 8, at the regular-season champion's home venue. Bluffton has won three consecutive HCAC battles in Founders, all with tournament implications, during the past five days.
Bluffton bolted to a 17-4 lead in the lidlifter and never looked back in trouncing the Grizzlies by a 25-8 count in the first set. Allison Streicher (Continental) served five straight points that included a pair of kills by Shawna Rowland (Bucyrus/Wynford) to give the Beavers a 12-point advantage and freshman Morgan Hicks (Convoy/Crestview) ended the set with six consecutive points from the service line.
The second set bore no resemblance to the opener as a 16-12 lead by Bluffton midway through was the biggest advantage for either team. After Bluffton went up 16-12, Franklin rallied for four straight points to tie the set and led 22-20 before Bluffton evened the set at 23. Jenna Eshleman (Landisville, Penn./Hempfield) pounded a spike to make it 28-27 and Hicks finished off Franklin with one of her four service aces on the night.
The Beavers wasted no time putting their stamp on the final set, opening up a 16-7 spread following five straight Rowland serves that included a pair of Heather Rodman (Mansfield/Mansfield Christian) throwdowns. Franklin battled back to make it 20-14, but a pair of points on Streicher's serve and two solo blocks by Crystal Augsburger (Bowling Green) guaranteed a sweep that pushes Bluffton into the conference tournament for the first time since it went to a six-team format.
Eshleman paced the Beavers with 13 kills and just two errors for a superb .478 hitting percentage. She also picked up eight digs and had two service aces. Wood was right behind Eshleman with 12 spikes and a .370 hitting percentage. Rodman stuffed the Grizzlies with one solo and three block assists while Augsburger had two crucial solo blocks in the final set.
Rowland was spectacular, hitting her teammates with 30 assists and finding the Franklin holes for seven kills and just one hitting error (.462). She also added six digs and three block assists. Junior libero Brittany Roth (Findlay) led the defense with 14 digs and Amy Simindinger (Lima/Bath) chipped in with eight.
The Beavers pounded 45 kills, giving Bluffton a solid .284 team hitting percentage. Bluffton again made its mark at the service line, smoking 10 service aces while only committing three miscues. The front line finished with nine total team blocks and the Beavers cleaned up Franklin's serves to the tune of a single reception error.
Bluffton returns to action on Friday, Oct. 31, when the Beavers travel to face Wilmington College of the Ohio Athletic Conference. The match with the Quakers is slated to start at 7 PM.