GREENWOOD, IN – The Hanover College volleyball team has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2016 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship. In a poll of the 10 HCAC head coaches, the Panthers received a total of 98 points and nine first place votes.
Bluffton University placed second in the poll with 88 points and one first place vote, while Transylvania University is picked to finish third in the conference standings this fall with 76 points. Franklin College (70 pts), Defiance College (60), Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (46), Mount St. Joseph University (43), Manchester University (35), Anderson University (22), and Earlham College (12) round out the poll.
The Panthers are coming off of a 23-9 season and 9-0 conference record in 2015, handing the school's first HCAC regular season title since 2011. Hanover's season ended when the Bluffton University Beavers handled the Panthers in three straight sets in the HCAC Tournament Championship last fall.
Coach Preocanin's Panthers look to be a formidable opponent once again in a highly competitive HCAC. Hanover returns three All-HCAC selections to the lineup this fall, including the HCAC Most Valuable Player. Junior outside hitter Courtney Crawford (Louisville, Ky. / Our Lady of Mercy) was named the league's MVP in 2015. Crawford played in 113 sets for the Panthers last season, posting a conference-best .354 hitting percentage with a league-high 131 total blocks. She averaged 1.85 kills per set and 2.8 points per set as a sophomore during Hanover's 32 matches. The Louisville, Kentucky native led the conference with a .467 hitting percentage and 54 total blocks during HCAC matches this season.
Junior Kelsey Brandvik (Indianapolis, Ind. / North Central) and freshman Haley Alexander (Martinsville, Ind. / Plainfield) earned All-HCAC accolades. Brandvik led Hanover with 2.19 kills per set, and saw action in 31 matches last year. The junior also posted 0.48 digs per set and 56 total blocks in 2015. Alexander led the Panthers in assists last season with 506 total and 4.69 assists per game. Hanover starts their season on September 2 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Bluffton University finished second in the standings last season with an 8-1 conference mark and a 19-13 record overall. The Beavers ended their season with a 3-1 loss to Wittenberg University in the first round of the Division III NCAA Tournament. The Beavers return two All-HCAC honorees from last season's team. First-team All-HCAC selection outside hitter Mackenzie McFarlin (Ashland, Ohio / Ashland) tallied 2.90 kills preset and 1.59 digs per set last season as a junior. Sophomore setter Erin Weisbarger (Bolivar, Ohio / Tuscarawas Valley) landed a spot on the All-Freshman team last fall after posting 10.39 assists per set and 228 digs last season. Bluffton kicks their season off at the Elmhurst tournament on September 2.
Transylvania University finished third in the standings last season after being predicted to finish seventh. The Pioneers ended their season with a 5-4 conference record and a 16-10 overall record. Transylvania only returns one All-HCAC honoree who tabbed a spot on the All-Freshman team last fall. Sophomore middle hitter Darby Bourdon (Harrodsburg, Ky. / Mercer Co.) played in 95 sets for the Pioneers posting a total 97 kills and averaged 1.02 kills per set. Transylvania begins their season in Atlanta, Ga. On September 2.
The 2016 volleyball season is scheduled to open on September 2.
Players to Watch
|Anderson||Courtney Copp||Sophomore||OH||Vincennes, Ind. / South Knox|
|Hannah O'Brien||Junior||MH||Crawfordsville, Ind. / North Montgomery|
|Riley Troyer||Senior||Setter||Syracuse, Ind. / Fairfield|
|Megan Wade||Senior||Libero||Evansville, Ind. / Evansville North|
|Bluffton||Mackenzie McFarlin||Senior||OH||Ashland, Ohio / Ashland|
|Lauren Weisbarger||Senior||MH||Bolivar, Ohio / Tusarawas Valley|
|Sydney Mohler||Junior||Libero||Lima, Ohio / Central Catholic|
|Becca Tourney||Junior||OH||Columbia City, Ind. / Columbia City|
|Erin Weisbarger||Sophomore||Setter||Bolivar, Ohio / Tusarawas Valley|
|Defiance||Ari Mahaffey||Senior||S/OPP||Porter, Ind. / Chesterton|
|Meredith Shank||Junior||OH||Maumee, Ohio / Springfield|
|Earlham||Ashleigh Burton||Sophomore||MH||Indianapolis, Ind. / Bishop Chatard|
|Megan Hedinger||Sophomore||DS||Germantown, Wis. / Germantown|
|Skylar Muckway||Sophomore||CH/RS||Indianapolis, Ind. / Franklin Central|
|Meredith Beed||Junior||MH||Berlin, Md. / US Embassy New Delhi|
|Franklin||Ashley Brazier||Senior||Setter||Terre Haute, Ind. / Terre Haute South|
|Amanda Lelivelt||Junior||MH||Chippewa Falls, Wis. / Riverside Brookfield|
|Brooke Harvey||Junior||OH||Clinton, Ind. / South Vermillion|
|Lauren Harmon||Junior||OH||Greenfield, Ind. / Eastern Hancock|
|Hanover||Kelsey Brandvik||Junior||OH||Indianapolis, Ind. / Lawrence North|
|Courtney Crawford||Junior||OH||Louisville, Ky. / Our Lady of Mercy|
|Manchester||Courtney Chowning||Senior||OH||Yorktown, Ind. / Yorktown|
|Dakota Stanichuk||Sophomore||Setter||Troy, Mich. / Athens|
|Hannah Tevis||Sophomore||MH||Royal Center, Ind. / Pioneer|
|MSJ||Jessica Wilgenbusch||Senior||OH||Sunman, Ind. / East Central|
|Hannah Losey||Senior||OPP||Tipp City, Ohio / Tippecanoe|
|Riley Brunner||Sophomore||OH||Lawrenceburg, Ind. / Lawrenceburg|
|Rose-Hulman||Emily McLendon||Senior||MH||Lexington, Ky. / Henry Clay|
|Gabi Razma||Junior||Libero||Durango, Colo. / Durango|
|Julia Hammond||Sophomore||OH||Geneva, Ill. / Geneva|
|Transylvania||Darby Bourdon||Sophomore||MB||Harrodsburg, Ky. / Mercer Co.|
|Marissa Coutinho||Junior||DS||Terre Haute, Ind. / Terre Haute South Vigo|
|Hannah Talkers||Freshman||Setter||Villa Hills, Ky. / Notre Dame Academy|
|Sarah Shively||Freshman||OH||Brighton, Co. / Brighton|
|Hadley Trenaman||Freshman||DS||Louisville, Ky. / Christian Academy|
|Jordan Horne||Freshman||RS||Louisville, Ky. / Male|