GREENWOOD, Ind. – The Hanover College volleyball team has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2017 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship. In a poll of the ten HCAC head coaches, the Panthers received a total of 98 points and eight first place votes.
Bluffton University placed second in the poll with 85 points and two first place votes, while Transylvania University is picked to finish third in the conference standings this fall with 73 points. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (65 pts), Defiance College (63), Manchester University (59), Franklin College (46), Anderson University (27), Mount St. Joseph University (21), and Earlham College (13) round out the poll.
The Panthers are coming off of a 25-8 season and 9-0 conference record in 2016, handing the school's second straight HCAC regular season title. Hanover's season ended when the Bluffton University Beavers defeated the Panthers in four sets in the HCAC Tournament Championship last fall.
Hanover returns three All-HCAC selections to the lineup this fall, including the HCAC Most Valuable Player. Senior middle hitter Courtney Crawford (Louisville, Ky. / Our Lady of Mercy) was named the league's MVP two seasons ago and was an All-HCAC selection in 2016. Crawford played in 118 sets for the Panthers last season, posting a conference-best .360 hitting percentage with 113 total blocks. The senior averaged 1.59 kills per set and 2.2 points per set as a junior during Hanover's 33 matches. The Louisville, Kentucky native tallied 41 total blocks during HCAC matches last season.
Junior Claire Dennis (Bloomington, Ind. / South) and senior Emily Ertel (North Vernon, Ind. / Jennings County) also earned All-HCAC accolades last season. Dennis contributed 1.49 kills per set, and saw action in all 33 matches last year. The junior also posted 2.60 digs per set and 165 total blocks in 2016. Ertel totaled 224 kills and averaged 2.07 kills per set last season for the Panthers. Hanover starts their season on September 1 in Bluffton, Ohio at the Bluffton University Sommer Spiketacular.
Bluffton University finished second in the standings last season with an 8-1 conference mark and a 24-9 record overall. The Beavers ended their season with a 3-0 loss to Washington University in the second round of the Division III NCAA Tournament. The Beavers return two All-HCAC honorees including the HCAC Defensive MVP from last season's squad. All-HCAC selection and reigning Defensive MVP Sydney Mohler (Lima, Ohio / Central Catholic) tallied 1.07 assists per set and 6.90 digs per set in conference play last season as a junior. Junior setter Erin Weisbarger (Bolivar, Ohio / Tuscarawas Valley) earned All-HCAC honors last fall after posting 9.96 assists per set and 299 digs last season. Bluffton kicks their season off at its home tournament on September 1.
Transylvania University finished tied for sixth in the standings last season. The Pioneers ended their season with a 4-5 conference record and a 13-15 overall record. Transylvania returns two All-HCAC honorees who also tabbed a spot on the All-Freshman team last fall. Sophomore right side hitter Jordan Horne (Louisville, Ky. / Male) played in 102 sets for the Pioneers posting a total 261 kills and averaged 2.56 kills per set. Sophomore setter Hannah Talkers (Villa Hills, Ky. / Notre Dame Academy) recorded 897 assists and 8.79 assists per set as a freshman last season. Transylvania begins their season at the Marietta College Invitational on September 1.
The 2016 volleyball season is scheduled to open on September 1.
Players to Watch
|Anna Marie Lawrie||Sophomore||Libero|