Hillsdale wins first regional title
Crowder tallies 24 kills to power Chargers past Indianapolis
HILLSDALE, Mich. -- It was fitting that Hillsdale would have to overcome its nemesis to try and win the first regional championship in program history.
It was fitting, that one point away from that championship, that the team's All-American, record-setting outside hitter, would clinch the title with a kill.
It was fitting that, in its third time hosting the NCAA Division II regional tournament, the Chargers got to hoist the trophy in front of their home fans.
Hillsdale captured the school's first NCAA Division II regional championship in any sport on Sunday afternoon by earning a 3-1 victory against Indianapolis.
With the victory, the Chargers advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament where they will meet Wheeling-Jesuit on Thursday, Dec. 1.
Hillsdale won an epic first set by a score of 33-31, setting the appropriate tone for an unforgettable day. Hillsdale then went up 2-0 with a 25-21 win in the second set, but the resilient Greyhounds staved off elimination by pulling out a 25-22 victory in set three.
The Chargers wrapped up the championship by taking the fourth set 25-19, sending the more than 700 fans in attendance into a celebrating frenzy.
The Greyhounds have traditionally been one of the toughest teams to beat in the country, with their tenacity and defensive prowess. UIndy had also bounced Hillsdale in its three previous regional tournament appearances -- 2007, 2009 and 2010. But on this day, the Greyhounds had no answer for the power and determination of Hillsdale's Ashlee Crowder.
Crowder took over the match in the end, scoring three of the Chargers last four points. She finished the match with 24 kills with a .346 hitting percentage. She recovered from a slow start to overwhelm the Greyhounds. Crowder delivered 10 kills in the fourth set alone, one night after delivering nine in the final set against Northern Kentucky.
Crowder was named to the All-Tournament Team, along with teammates Morgan Podkul, Clara Leutheuser and Apryl Schmucker.
Podkul led the team's defense with a consistent, accurate passing match as she recorded a season-high 28 digs.
Leutheuser teamed up with middle hitter teammate Lauren Grover for a dominating match at the net. Leutheuser had 13 kills, a .385 hitting percentage, and six block assists. Hillsdale, one of the best blocking teams in the nation, outblocked Indianapolis 14-6 in the match.
Schmucker delivered 55 assists and was able to find open spaces in the Greyhound defense to put her teammates in great position to make kills. She also had six digs and three kills on the night.
Grover added 12 kills, three solo blocks and five block assists to the championship performance. Caitlin Kopmeyer contributed eight kills, three aces, three block assists and 15 digs for the Chargers.