Oct. 25 – HIRAM, Ohio – Wanting to send their seniors off on a high note, the Hiram College volleyball team posted a dramatic, come-from-behind, victory in a 3-2 decision against Case Western Reserve University on Wednesday evening.
The Terriers celebrated the careers of seniors Grace Wilson and Jessica Fontana prior to the matchup with the Spartans, before going on to win their 16th match of the season. Hiram is now 16-9 while the loss drops CWRU to 16-11.
The opening set of the match set the tone for the entire evening as game one saw 15 ties and six lead changes throughout.
Hiram's largest lead of the set came on a kill from Wilson, staking the Terriers to a three-point advantage (9-6). A 3-0 run by the Spartans pulled the visitors back even, however, and the set saw 10 more ties after that.
A kill by freshman Kiara Franks knotted the score for the final time at 20-20, but a 5-2 run by Case gave the Spartans a 25-22 victory in the opening set. Hiram helped their guests take the opening game, committing three errors in the final five points.
Hiram responded in a big way in the second set, riding the hot hand of Franks to take the second game, 25-19.
The Terriers never trailed in the second stanza, running out to an 8-3 advantage in the early stages. Holly Hoffman and Fontana each posted a pair of kills in the run, while Kayla Cole and Franks both tallied a kill.
Case Western would pull the score back within a pair (15-13), before Franks rattled off three straight kills to force a timeout and push the lead back to five (18-13). From there Hiram would coast to the six-point set win.
Franks totaled seven kills in the second set, hitting .300 on 20 attempts. She was also the lone bright spot in set three, totaling nine kills in the frame, but the Terriers still found themselves trailing 2-1 after falling in the third stanza, 25-22.
By the end of the third set, the outside hitter had already eclipsed her career-high, having posted 21 through three. Her previous high was 19, which she set in a victory over Allegheny last week.
The Terriers once again refused to go away in the fourth set, fighting hard to stay in the match. The fourth stanza saw nine ties and five lead changes, while the Hiram defense amassed 30 digs in the fourth set, alone.
The two sides played close, with Hiram erasing a four-point deficit (11-7) early in the stanza. Fontana fueled the run that kept the Terriers in the hunt, as she posted three-consecutive kills to help swing the momentum back in Hiram's favor.
Despite pulling close, Hiram still found themselves staring down match point, with Case leading 24-23. The Terriers fought back, retaking the lead on a block by Fontana and Lindsey Walker, before Walker forced the decisive fifth set with a kill (27-25).
It was the Spartans that held the largest advantage of set five, as the Terriers committed four-straight errors to stake Case Western to a 4-1 lead.
Once again, Hiram battled, tying the score seven times, before taking an 11-10 advantage on three-straight kills from Cole. From there, the Terriers would have their first crack at match point, leading 14-12.
Case Western kept the game alive, however, as a kills from Karley King and a service ace by Christine Tamura once again knotted the score.
It was with the set tied 15-15, that the Terriers pulled their final strike. After Frank's career-high 28th kill of the night, sophomore Madison Fortune sealed the win with her second ace of the evening, lifting Hiram to a 17-15 set victory, and a 3-2 win in the match.
There was no shortage of impressive numbers for Hiram in the triumph. But perhaps the most impressive thing was the ability for each player on the floor to contribute to the cause.
As they have done all season, the Terriers relied on a complete-team effort. Franks was the tip of the spear, finishing with a career-best 28 kills. Her total was also the most by any player in the NCAC this season.
Having flirted with a triple-double in a few of her previous contests, Walker finally achieved the milestone, collecting the first of her career. She finished the matchup with 40 assists, 11 kills and 13 digs.
Splitting time at the setter position, Hoffman still managed to procure her ninth double-double of the season, collecting 24 digs to go along with 35 assists.
Cole continued her consistent play, breaking double-digit kills for the fifth conference matchup in a row. The freshman totaled a career-high 20 kills, while posting her fourth double-double in her last five matches.
Fontana, playing in her final match in Price Gymnasium, continued her consistent effort, collecting 12 kills while hitting .400. She came into the evening, ranking fourth in the NCAC in hitting percentage.
Wilson tallied nine kills on the night, while Jessica Caspio led the team with 3.5 total blocks. Along with her pair of aces, including the game winner, Fortune chipped in with nine digs.
Defensively, Hiram was led by Lindsey Stahl, who broke the 30-dig plateau for the first time in her career. She led the Terriers, who finished the game with 109. It marked the third time this season that the Terriers have gone over 100 digs (more than any other team in the NCAC).
Hiram will get back to action on Friday and Saturday, October 27 and 28 as they head to Brockport, N.Y. to compete in the Brockport Invitational for their final regular season games of the season.