Defiance falls to Hanover in Heartland Conference semifinals
Saturday, November 9, 2013 | by Martin Kluk

DEFIANCE, Ohio – The trend of upsets in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference volleyball tournament continued, as the Yellow Jackets were stunned by the Hanover Panthers in a 3-0 defeat (20-25, 24-26, 21-25) on Saturday, November 9.

Hanover improves to 16-15 (5-4 HCAC) and advances to the tournament final tomorrow. The Purple and Gold’s 11-match winning streak comes to a screeching halt and they drop to 23-6 (9-0 HCAC).

In the first set, action started off well for Defiance, as it went up 5-2 early. But the lead did not last long, as the Panthers quickly tied the match back up at 6-6.

The two teams battled back-and-forth, as play was even from both sides. However, Hanover began to control the tempo of the game and pull away from DC. The Panthers pushed their advantage to 14-18 and never looked back.

Every time the Yellow Jackets gained a little momentum with a point, HC would come right back with a score. Defiance cut the deficit to one at 19-20, but it was all Hanover from there on out, as it ran away to a 20-25 victory in set one.

It was noticeable that the Purple and Gold were shaken from the first-set defeat, but it got together during the break and came out better to begin the second set.

DC jumped ahead with three straight points to open the frame and moved that advantage to 7-4. Just as they had in the first set, the cool and collected Panthers clawed their way back to tie things up at 8-8.

After more back-and-forth scoring from the two squads, the top-seeded Jackets were finally able to get a little momentum going and moved ahead 19-15 on an Ari Mahaffey (Porter, Ind./Chesterton) kill.

Unfortunately for Defiance, Hanover would not fold under the pressure of the big stage. On cue, the Panthers used a 7-1 spurt to get back in the lead at 20-22 over the Purple and Gold.

DC fought tooth and nail and tied the set up at 24-24, but a Rachel Hasewinkel kill and a Yellow Jacket attack error gave the Panthers a 2-0 advantage in the match.

A victory was just not in the cards for the Purple and Gold on the afternoon, as it fell behind Hanover early and were never able to grab a lead in the third and final set.

Defiance never gave up and cut its deficit to only one point on two separate occasions. At scores of both 12-13 and 19-20, there was still a glimpse of hope for a Jacket comeback.

But the Panthers would not be denied their big upset in the HCAC tournament and finished off the Lady Jackets with a 21-25 third-set victory.

Junior Bree Anderson (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll) led DC with 9 kills and three total blocks and Mahaffey chipped in with seven kills. Sophomore Rebecca Kain (Orland, Ind./Prairie Heights) came up with the most digs at 16 and junior Alicia Kalik (South Lyon, Mich./South Lyon) paced the way with 32 assists.

After the defeat, the Purple and Gold will now wait to hear from the NCAA selection committee come Monday. Due to Defiance’s outstanding season record, there is still a slim chance that the team could get an at-large bid into the tournament. If not, the fantastic 2013 campaign will come to an end.

The fifth-seeded Hanover will now take on No. 6 Bluffton, after the Beavers pulled off a miraculous comeback against second-seeded Transylvania in the second contest of the afternoon. Down two sets to none, Bluffton stormed all the way back to take the match 3-2.

The HCAC Championship match is slated to begin tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the Karl H. Weaner Center.