Hanover College is Coaches Pick to Lead HCAC Volleyball Race

Hanover College is Coaches Pick to Lead HCAC Volleyball Race

GREENWOOD, IN – The Hanover College volleyball team has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2016 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship. In a poll of the 10 HCAC head coaches, the Panthers received a total of 98 points and nine first place votes.

Bluffton University placed second in the poll with 88 points and one first place vote, while Transylvania University is picked to finish third in the conference standings this fall with 76 points. Franklin College (70 pts), Defiance College (60), Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (46), Mount St. Joseph University (43), Manchester University (35), Anderson University (22), and Earlham College (12) round out the poll.

The Panthers are coming off of a 23-9 season and 9-0 conference record in 2015, handing the school's first HCAC regular season title since 2011. Hanover's season ended when the Bluffton University Beavers handled the Panthers in three straight sets in the HCAC Tournament Championship last fall.

Coach Preocanin's Panthers look to be a formidable opponent once again in a highly competitive HCAC.  Hanover returns three All-HCAC selections to the lineup this fall, including the HCAC Most Valuable Player.  Junior outside hitter Courtney Crawford (Louisville, Ky. / Our Lady of Mercy) was named the league's MVP in 2015. Crawford played in 113 sets for the Panthers last season, posting a conference-best .354 hitting percentage with a league-high 131 total blocks.  She averaged 1.85 kills per set and 2.8 points per set as a sophomore during Hanover's 32 matches. The Louisville, Kentucky native led the conference with a .467 hitting percentage and 54 total blocks during HCAC matches this season.  

Junior Kelsey Brandvik (Indianapolis, Ind. / North Central) and freshman Haley Alexander (Martinsville, Ind. / Plainfield) earned All-HCAC accolades. Brandvik led Hanover with 2.19 kills per set, and saw action in 31 matches last year. The junior also posted 0.48 digs per set and 56 total blocks in 2015.  Alexander led the Panthers in assists last season with 506 total and 4.69 assists per game. Hanover starts their season on September 2 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Bluffton University finished second in the standings last season with an 8-1 conference mark and a 19-13 record overall.  The Beavers ended their season with a 3-1 loss to Wittenberg University in the first round of the Division III NCAA Tournament. The Beavers return two All-HCAC honorees from last season's team.  First-team All-HCAC selection outside hitter Mackenzie McFarlin (Ashland, Ohio / Ashland) tallied 2.90 kills preset and 1.59 digs per set last season as a junior.  Sophomore setter Erin Weisbarger (Bolivar, Ohio / Tuscarawas Valley) landed a spot on the All-Freshman team last fall after posting 10.39 assists per set and 228 digs last season. Bluffton kicks their season off at the Elmhurst tournament on September 2.

Transylvania University finished third in the standings last season after being predicted to finish seventh.  The Pioneers ended their season with a 5-4 conference record and a 16-10 overall record.  Transylvania only returns one All-HCAC honoree who tabbed a spot on the All-Freshman team last fall.  Sophomore middle hitter Darby Bourdon (Harrodsburg, Ky. / Mercer Co.) played in 95 sets for the Pioneers posting a total 97 kills and averaged 1.02 kills per set.  Transylvania begins their season in Atlanta, Ga. On September 2.

The 2016 volleyball season is scheduled to open on September 2.

Players to Watch

Anderson   Courtney Copp   Sophomore   OH Vincennes, Ind. / South Knox
    Hannah O'Brien   Junior   MH Crawfordsville, Ind. / North Montgomery
    Riley Troyer   Senior   Setter Syracuse, Ind. / Fairfield
    Megan Wade   Senior   Libero Evansville, Ind. / Evansville North
Bluffton   Mackenzie McFarlin   Senior   OH   Ashland, Ohio / Ashland
    Lauren Weisbarger   Senior   MH   Bolivar, Ohio / Tusarawas Valley
    Sydney Mohler   Junior   Libero   Lima, Ohio / Central Catholic
    Becca Tourney   Junior   OH   Columbia City, Ind. / Columbia City
    Erin Weisbarger   Sophomore   Setter   Bolivar, Ohio / Tusarawas Valley
Defiance   Ari Mahaffey   Senior   S/OPP   Porter, Ind. / Chesterton
    Meredith Shank   Junior   OH   Maumee, Ohio / Springfield
Earlham   Ashleigh Burton   Sophomore   MH Indianapolis, Ind. / Bishop Chatard
    Megan Hedinger   Sophomore   DS Germantown, Wis. / Germantown
    Skylar Muckway   Sophomore   CH/RS Indianapolis, Ind. / Franklin Central
    Meredith Beed   Junior   MH Berlin, Md. / US Embassy New Delhi
Franklin   Ashley Brazier   Senior   Setter Terre Haute, Ind. / Terre Haute South
    Amanda Lelivelt   Junior   MH Chippewa Falls, Wis. / Riverside Brookfield
    Brooke Harvey   Junior   OH Clinton, Ind. / South Vermillion
    Lauren Harmon   Junior   OH Greenfield, Ind. / Eastern Hancock
Hanover   Kelsey Brandvik   Junior   OH   Indianapolis, Ind. / Lawrence North
    Courtney Crawford   Junior   OH   Louisville, Ky. / Our Lady of Mercy
Manchester   Courtney Chowning   Senior   OH Yorktown, Ind. / Yorktown
    Dakota Stanichuk   Sophomore   Setter Troy, Mich. / Athens
    Hannah Tevis   Sophomore   MH Royal Center, Ind. / Pioneer
MSJ   Jessica Wilgenbusch   Senior   OH Sunman, Ind. / East Central
    Hannah Losey   Senior   OPP Tipp City, Ohio / Tippecanoe
    Riley Brunner   Sophomore   OH Lawrenceburg, Ind. / Lawrenceburg
Rose-Hulman   Emily McLendon   Senior   MH Lexington, Ky. / Henry Clay
    Gabi Razma   Junior   Libero Durango, Colo. / Durango
    Julia Hammond   Sophomore   OH Geneva, Ill. / Geneva
Transylvania   Darby Bourdon   Sophomore   MB Harrodsburg, Ky. / Mercer Co.
    Marissa Coutinho   Junior   DS Terre Haute, Ind. / Terre Haute South Vigo
    Hannah Talkers   Freshman   Setter Villa Hills, Ky. / Notre Dame Academy
    Sarah Shively   Freshman   OH Brighton, Co. / Brighton
    Hadley Trenaman   Freshman   DS   Louisville, Ky. / Christian Academy
    Jordan Horne   Freshman   RS Louisville, Ky. / Male