Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania volleyball team's bid for its first-ever Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship was halted by the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Fightin' Engineers, who defeated the Pioneers 3-1 in Sunday afternoon's 2018 HCAC Tournament championship match.
Rose-Hulman secured the conference tournament championship and the automatic qualifying bid into next weekend's NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament with Sunday's hard-fought victory.
Transylvania's outstanding 2018 run comes to an end on Sunday with a record of 15-11 overall, while the Engineers will enter the NCAA Tournament with a record of 19-12.
The Pioneers and Engineers matched up Sunday for the second time in 2018 since the HCAC season opener on September 29 at Rose-Hulman in Terre Haute, Indiana, a 3-0 result that went to the host Engineers.
On Sunday, with the No. 1 seed Pioneers hosting the championship tournament in Lexington, the Engineers were able to churn out a 25-21, 22-25, 25-23, 25-17 victory to make amends for their HCAC championship match loss in 2017 to Hanover.
After the Engineers erased an 11-7 deficit in the first set to grab a lead and pull away for a 25-21 victory against Transylvania, the Pioneers responded with a 15-kill second set to grab a scintillating 25-22 win against Rose-Hulman to tie up the match at 1-1.
In the third set, Transy crafted a 10-7 advantage off a kill by sophomore middle blocker Ellie Stigger. Rose-Hulman rallied back to tie the set at 16-16 and surged to a 23-21 advantage. With junior setter Hannah Talkers holding serve, the Pioneers won back two successive points by way of junior outside hitter Taryn Glass. But after an Engineers timeout with the set tied at 23-all, Rose-Hulman answered back with two straight points to take a 2-1 set lead.
Rose-Hulman led nearly from the start of the fourth set as it gradually built a seven-point cushion on the way to winning the 2018 title.
Talkers led all players with 44 assists, adding 19 digs and three kills in a gargantuan effort for the Pioneers. Stigger produced a match-high 19 kills for Transylvania while adding three digs and two block assists. Junior right side hitter Jordan Horne registered 13 kills and seven digs. Horne and Talkers were named to the HCAC All-Tournament team for their production. Junior libero Abby Wills produced 32 of Transylvania's 100 digs on the afternoon.
The Pioneers complete their season with a regular-season HCAC title after going 8-1 in conference play to lead all HCAC teams. Sunday marked Transylvania's first appearance in an HCAC Tournament title match since the 2012 season.
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2018 HCAC All-Tournament Team
Ashleigh Burton, Senior, Earlham
Erin Weisgarber, Senior, Bluffton
Hannah Talkers, Junior, Transylvania
Jordan Horne, Junior, Transylvania
Bailey MacInnis, Senior, Rose-Hulman
Marissa Gollnick, Senior, Rose-Hulman
Katryna Dahlberg, Sophomore, Rose-Hulman