RICHMOND, Ind. - Volleyball's momentum remains in full swing after three straight sets against the Bluffton Beavers for a senior day win.
Beginning the match, Bluffton's strategy was not to hit hard but mislead the Earlham defense by placing the ball over the net in strategic places. That strategy did not go well, because Earlham was playing with extreme ball awareness and not letting anything hit the floor. Although both the offense and defense were clicking for Earlham, mistakes gave Bluffton a lot of free points keeping them in the game. As the Beavers saw the ineffectiveness of their offense, they changed strategies to a hard hitting offense. Bluffton recognized there were open spots on the floor and did their best to take advantage of them.
Earlham's offense was clearly superior due to the fact that there were so many weapons. The good thing about this offense is they have touch. They have the vision to know when to spike the ball and when to just sneak it over the net into open spots on the court. When Earlham did attack, the offense recognized middle of floor was constantly open and centered their energy there. Bluffton tried to have a net presence but the Quakers' attacks were just too hard to defend.
The tenacity the Quakers had defensively is what really stood out. No one gave up on any ball that was on the Quakers' side of the net. Earlham did not let many balls fall and their first line of defense at the net was proven extremely effective in keeping the ball in play. Out of 128 attacks by Bluffton, only 40 fell as kills.
Momentum was a big factor in this match. The fans really pulsated energy throughout the gym that the Quakers fed on.
Both Ashleigh Burton and Sarah Dickman led the team in kills with 13 followed by Abbey Zanatta with 12. Lauren Jackson added 40 more assists to her resume. Five different Quakers had at least five digs. Megan Hedinger led the team in digs with 15 while Caroline Mulvihill had the second most with 12. Mulvihill has really emerged as a key piece for the Quakers the past few games.
Today, five seniors were honored for their contributions to Earlham volleyball. Megan Hedinger, Denisha Mataia, Ashleigh Burton, Skylar Muckway and Carley Carpenter. Carley Carpenter has served as team manager for three seasons keeping bench stats, being team mom and harboring so many other responsibilities for the team. She has given so much to the team which is extremely appreciated.
Earlham is 19-11 overall, 6-3 in the HCAC, with the Quakers' regular-season finale taking place on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at No. 3 Wittenberg.
Earlham volleyball's third-place finish in the HCAC standings is the best in program history, giving Earlham its first HCAC tournament berth when it hosts sixth-seed Anderson University on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at the Druley Performance Gym in the Opening Round of the 2018 HCAC Volleyball Championship.
For more information about Earlham women's volleyball, visit the online home of Earlham College athletics at www.GoEarlham.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Earlham athletics news by following Earlham Quakers on Facebook (Earlham Quakers Athletics), Twitter (@EarlhamQuakers), and Instagram (EarlhamQuakers).