Lexington, Ky. – The No. 20 Transylvania volleyball team advanced into the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship match for the second consecutive year with a resounding three-set sweep of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Fightin' Engineers in the HCAC Tournament Semifinals on Saturday afternoon at the Clive M. Beck Center.
The Pioneers replicated their second straight sweep of the 2019 season against Rose-Hulman while exacting a measure of revenge in a rematch of last year's HCAC Tournament Championship, disposing of the Engineers on Saturday with a 25-13, 25-15, 25-17 victory.
Transylvania moved past Rose-Hulman, who captured the 2018 HCAC tournament title in four sets against the Pioneers, to advance into tomorrow's HCAC Tournament Championship at 1:00 p.m. against No. 3 Earlham, who outlasted No. 2 seed Hanover in five sets in the other HCAC semifinal on Saturday.
Hannah Talkers unleashed a signature all-around performance with a match-high 36 assists and a team-high 20 digs to go with three kills and two blocks in the dominant semifinal win. Aiding Talkers on the front line was Jordan Horne, who paced all players with 19 kills to just two errors, adding nine digs and two digs in the contest.
Rose-Hulman's 2019 season comes to an end at 15-16 overall with a regular-season record of 6-3 in the HCAC. The Pioneers met their program-record win streak at 12 straight wins for the second time in 2019 after reeling off a 12-match win streak in the month of September, strengthening their program-record best record to 26-4 and 10-0 against HCAC opponents.
The Pioneers used a quick start and a furious run over the back end of the opening set to assert their will over the afternoon and their opponent. Behind two aces from Hadley Trenaman, the Pioneers climbed to a 4-0 lead. Rose-Hulman founds its footing, drawing within three of Transy at 8-5, but two Engineer errors regrew Transy's lead to 10-5.
Leading 11-7, the Pioneers posted eight straight points to pull away from the Engineers in the first set. A lone service error by the Pioneers was the only bump in a string of 12 points in 13 rallies. Emmie Bender and Ellie Stigger rounded out the opening-set win with kills for the 25-13 triumph.
Transylvania mirrored its set-one start with another 4-0 lead and scored eight of the first nine points to cruise ahead of the Engineers. Horne had seven of her 19 kills in the set as the Pioneers put together an attacking percentage of .452 for a 25-15 second-set win.
The Engineers and Pioneers jousted to start out the third set as the Pioneers forced five ties early but could never take the lead. Transylvania used a kill by Taryn Glass and Horne along with a Rose-Hulman error to claim its first lead of the set at 7-5 before the Engineers scored three straight to go back on top at 8-7. Transylvania scored another quick three behind finishes from Glass, Talkers, and Horne to go ahead for good at 10-8.
Rose-Hulman pulled within one at 10-9, but the Pioneers went on another signature seven-point run to close the door on the contest with a 17-9 advantage. Horne put the finishing touches on the contest with the last two kills of the match to escort the Pioneers into the championship match.
Tomorrow's match will represent a new pathway to program excellence for one of the two programs. Earlham will play in its first HCAC Tournament Championship match while the Pioneers are aiming for their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth; the winner of tomorrow's match will receive the HCAC automatic qualifying bid for the NCAA Tournament bid, which begins on Friday, November 15.
For more on Transylvania volleyball, follow @TransylvaniaWVB on Twitter