TIFFIN, Ohio - Off to a perfect 4-0 start in conference play, Tiffin volleyball will be tested this weekend as they host perennial GMAC powers Hillsdale and Findlay on Friday and Saturday.
Tiffin enters the week as one of four remaining schools without a loss in GMAC play, joined by Cedarville at 4-0 along with Hillsdale and Walsh at 3-0. The Dragons' conference schedule has been relatively easy thus far, picking up their four wins against four of the bottom five teams in the GMAC standings, so this weekend will be a great opportunity to pick up wins against top conference opponents.
Last weekend, TU swept both Alderson Broaddus and Ohio Valley, not even allowing the Fighting Scots to score more than 12 points in any of the sets. Tiffin also played a nonconference match earlier this week on Tuesday, dominating PSAC-member Slippery Rock in a 25-14, 25-14, 25-15 sweep.
In that game, standout senior Jenna Huffman achieved the 1,000-dig career milestone in the third set, and keeps inching closer to Tiffin's DII kills record, needing just 22 more this weekend to surpass the mark. She currently leads the conference and is second in the country in both kills per set (4.76) and points per set (5.40).
As a team, the Dragons are second only to Hillsdale in kills, assists, and digs. Tiffin is also fourth in hitting percentage.
Scouting the Chargers:
Hillsdale is off to a great year in 2019, coming into the weekend ranked 17th in Division II with a 12-2 overall record and 3-0 mark in conference. They have won each of their last four matches via sweeps, including a victory over Findlay last Friday.
The Chargers have had a lot of success against Tiffin since both programs joined Division II, holding a 15-2 advantage in the series. That includes a pair of sweeps by Hillsdale last season.
Hillsdale's defense is among the best in the nation, ranking seventh in DII with 2.55 blocks per set and 19th with 18.43 digs per set. Along with those marks, they also lead the GMAC in assists and kills.
Hillsdale has three First Team All-GMAC returners from last season in Alyssa Van Wienen, Lindsey Mertz, and Taylor Wiese. Van Wienen leads the conference and is fourth in the nation with a .422 hitting percentage, while also ranking 27th in kills per set (3.98) and eighth in points per set (4.89). She is also third in the conference with 1.09 blocks per set.
Mertz is the Chargers' setter, leading the conference and ranking 20th nationally with 10.96 assists per set. Wiese holds down the back line, leading the GMAC and ranking eighth nationally with 6.03 digs per set.
Hannah Gates joins Van Wienen up front with 1,26 blocks per set, leading the conference and ranking 18th in DII. Emily Lachmann is second on the team with 3.06 kills per set and Maddie Clark is third at 3.00 kills per set.
Scouting the Oilers:
Findlay got off to a rough start against tough competition in season-opening tournaments, dropping their first seven contests of the year. Since then, however, the Oilers are 5-3 and 2-1 in GMAC play with their only conference loss coming to Hillsdale last Friday.
Tiffin has also struggled historically against Findlay, as the Oilers hold a 14-3 advantage in the DII series. Findlay won both contests last season as well, as the Oilers and Chargers were the only teams to defeat the Dragons in regular-season GMAC play.
Shelby Kin leads the Oilers up front, ranking fourth in the GMAC with 3.88 kills per set and fifth with 4.34 points per set. She is joined by Rylie Pattison at 2.92 kills per set. Sophomore Emily Annesser handles the setting duties with 8.71 assists per set, while also leading the team with 20 aces on the year.
Alana Sundermann anchors the back line with 3.65 digs per set, while freshman Natalie Maras leads with 39 blocks on the season.