Bluffton 3, Hanover 1
By: Brittany Roth, sports information assistant
Nov. 10, 2013
DEFIANCE, Ohio - In an ironic twist of fate, the Bluffton University volleyball team capped off its improbable run to the Heartland Conference tournament championship with a victory celebration in the Karl Weaner Center less than two weeks after watching rival Defiance College pose for HCAC regular season championship photos on Copeland Court in the Sommer Center. Hanover College robbed the Beavers of an opportunity to clear out all three of the top seeds, but Bluffton will enjoy its second trip to the NCAA regionals in the last five years nonetheless. The Panthers swept away #1 seed Defiance in straight sets on Saturday afternoon setting the stage for a first-ever HCAC final pitting the #5 and #6 seeds. Bluffton became the first #6 seed to claim the title while improving to 16-18 on the season.
Bluffton returned to Defiance for the championship match after delivering an exciting win over Transylvania on Saturday evening. The Beavers were energized and focused from the moment they stepped off the bus which showed with a 25-16 drubbing in the first set. The second set was tightly-contested with 14 tie scores and eight lead changes as the two teams battled to the finish. A spurt at the end with senior libero Hailey Phillips (Malinta/Patrick Henry) at the service line allowed Bluffton to clinch the 25-22 victory.
The Beavers came out strong in the third set, forcing the Panthers to use both their timeouts early on, but a six-point Hanover run put them on top by a 15-11 count. The two teams battled to the end but the Panthers refused to call it a season as they forced a fourth set with a 25-22 win.
Squelching any momentum that Hanover gained in the previous set, the Beavers started off the fourth with a six-point splurge thanks to Brooke Ruffer's (Stryker) work at the service line. Freshman Lauren Weisgarber (Bolivar/Tuscarawas Valley) and sophomore Sara Roth (Findlay/Van Buren) followed Ruffer's example with six and seven-point jags, respectively, to complete Bluffton's 25-11 blitzing of Hanover which helped the Beavers secure the HCAC tournament championship.
Ruffer had another all-around great match with 10 kills, 35 assists and 13 digs for her second consecutive triple-double. Phillips led the Beaver defense with 23 digs while freshman Marissa Krier (Massillon/Central Christian) and Roth added eight and seven pickups, respectively. MacKenzie McFarlin (Ashland) and Krier rifled two aces apiece. Along with Ruffer, Roth also handed out 17 assists for the victors.
Sophomore Kendra Parmenter (Grove City) played the part of New York Yankee great Mariano Rivera. Ruffer and Roth set her up and Parmenter closed it down, ramming home a career-high 24 kills at the expense of the Panthers. Jenny Brown (St. Marys/Memorial) and Adrienne Shepard (Arlington) pounded seven kills each and McFarlin chipped in with six of her own. Senior captain Lindsay Krohn (Marysville, Ind./New Washington) was also an instrumental force in the Beaver win even though her play did not always show up on the stat sheet.
Earning spots on the All-Tournament Team were Hailey Phillips and Brooke Ruffer. Phillips shined on Sunday afternoon, repeatedly thwarting Hanover's hitters while delivering picture perfect passes to Bluffton's outstanding setting duo. Sophomore Kendra Parmenter was the obvious choice for tournament MVP with a gaudy 49 kills in the three matches this week.
With the victory, Bluffton has qualified to play in the NCAA tournament for the second time in five years. The draw for placement in the tournament begins tomorrow (Monday, Nov. 11) at noon and will determine where and when the Beavers will be playing along with who their opponent will be. Continue to check the volleyball main page and the schedule page (http://www.bluffton.edu/athletics/volleyball/2013/schedule.html) for tournament updates and additional information.