Led by sophomore Kayla Cole and junior Madison Fortune, the Hiram College volleyball team earned a 3-1 victory over Ohio Wesleyan University in the Terrier's North Coast Athletic Conference opener on Saturday afternoon.
Hitting .239 for the match, the Terriers took the down the Battling Bishops after dropping the opening set, 25-22. Hiram then came back to win set two, 25-23, before taking sets three and four by scores of 25-22 and 25-13.
Hiram opened the game with their worst hitting percentage set of the evening, hitting .109 compared to the Bishops' .239. Because of that, the Terriers found themselves trailing 22-14 late in the first.
The Terriers looked to make a run in the set, posting four-straight points, including a kill by Lindsey walker and a service ace by Kiara Franks. Despite cutting the Bishops' lead to just two (24-22) on a pair of kills from Cole, Hiram dropped the opening set for the first time in 2018.
The hosts would come back in a hurry in set two, as Cole led the offensive attack for Hiram. The sophomore tallied 10 of the Terriers' 15 kills in the set, marking the most in one set in her Hiram career.
Trailing 8-6 in the frame, Hiram went on an 8-1 run to take control of the game. A pair of aces by Jaya Martin forced an Ohio Wesleyan timeout, which was then followed by two kills from Cole and another ace by Holly Hoffman.
Ohio Wesleyan would spark a run of their own as they looked to take control of the match. Trailing by five the Battling Bishops lived up to their namesake, outscoring the Terriers 9-2 to retake the lead, 18-16.
Hiram would once again respond, taking back a three-point advantage thanks to a 6-1 swing. Walker and Fortune each totaled a kill in the run, while Cole notched three. Cole would tally six of Hiram's last seven-points in the set, giving the Terriers a 25-23 win, and knotting the match 1-1.
The Terrier offense would continue to improve in each game, going from a .237 hitting percentage in the second, to a .263 in the third.
With the third game tied at 11, the Terriers embarked on a 10-3 run to take a seven-point lead. Fortune posted a pair of kills in the run, while Walker added two to go along with a service ace.
Holding a 23-15 lead in the frame, the visitors would put together a final push, going on a 7-0 run to force a Terrier timeout at 23-22. Out of the timeout, however, Franks put the game at 24-22 before another kill from Cole finished the set, 25-22.
The final set of the afternoon was highlighted by a 12-0 Terrier run. Cole served 12-consecutive times, tallying an ace, as Hiram turned a 10-8 lead into a 22-8 advantage. Fortune paced the Terrier run with three kills, while Walker added two and a block. After the run, Hiram cruised to a 25-13 set win, hitting a game-high .394.
Cole paved the way for the Terrier win, tying a career high with 20 kills, while hitting over .400 for the second time this season. The sophomore hit .405 in 42 attempts, while adding her fifth double-double of the season (14 digs).
Fortune played a vital role in the victory despite playing in just three of the sets. The junior hit .520, not committing a single error on the day while posting a season-best 13 kills. Walker tallied 12 kills, while Franks finished with eight. Hoffman notched her eighth double-double on the year, and fourth straight, totaling 46 assists to go along with 13 digs.
As a unit, Hiram tallied 11 aces, including three by Cole and two, each, from Hoffman and Martin.
The Terriers will get back to work on Tuesday, Sept. 25 as they play host to Thiel College. The matchup at Price Gymnasium is set for a 7 p.m. start.