Bluffton 3, Hanover 0
November 8, 2014
By: Brittany Roth, sports information assistant
DEFIANCE, Ohio - The Bluffton University volleyball team showed its mettle with 26-24 and 25-23 wins in the first two sets before a 25-16 victory in the clincher gave the Beavers a three-set victory over Hanover College in the Heartland Conference tournament semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Bluffton moves into the championship game where it will lock horns with two-time regular season champion and host Defiance College at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 9. The Yellow Jackets downed #5 seed Franklin College in the other semifinal contest at the Weaner Center.
Bluffton went out to an 8-3 lead in the lidlifter on the strength of three Kendra Parmenter (Grove City) kills, but Hanover Head Coach Peter Preocanin called a timeout and his Panthers responded. Hanover knotted the match at 10 apiece before pulling ahead 15-13 and 20-17 late in the first set. Coach Yarnell's second timeout paid immediate dividends as the Beavers scored four straight to re-take the lead. Hanover scored four of the next six points, giving the Panthers a chance to win it at 24-23, but three straight Bluffton counters ended set one with Bluffton on top (26-24). Senior Ashley Litwiller (Olympia, Ill./Hopedale) punctuated the comeback with a kill for the victory.
Set two was nearly a mirror reversal of the opener except the Beavers recovered to go up 2-0 with another late spurt. Hanover led 9-3 before Bluffton rallied for a 12-11 advantage. The Panthers bolted out to a 19-14 lead, but the Beavers sandwiched eight straight points around a Hanover timeout en route to a 22-19 spread. Three straight Bluffton miscues made the score 22-22 before a MacKenzie McFarlin (Ashland) kill put the Beavers up 2-0.
The Beavers went up 10-6 in the third set and cruised to a 25-16 win. Bluffton took advantage of 14 kills and seven Hanover hitting errors as the Beavers dominated set three and capped off the Saturday night sweep.
Dominating the front row for the Beavers was MacKenzie McFarlin with 11 kills. JENNY BROWN (St. Marys/Memorial) and LAUREN WEISGARBER (Bolivar/Tuscarawas Valley) followed close behind with nine and seven kills, respectively. SARA ROTH (Findlay/ Van Buren) doled out 34 assists on the night.
Defensively, libero SYDNEY MOHLER (Lima/Central Catholic) picked up a match-high 17 digs. BECCA TOURNEY (Columbia City) tallied 11, ERIN HELMS (Arlington) added 10 and McFarlin chipped in with nine.
Bluffton will now play #1 seed and tournament host Defiance College for the Heartland Conference title and automatic berth into next week's NCAA Regionals. It marks the fourth time in six seasons that the Beavers have advanced to the HCAC championship game, including tournament wins in 2009 and 2013. The contest is slated for a 1 p.m. start at Defiance College. Come out and support your Beavers in the 'Battle of the Purples'!