THE TURNING POINT: After losing the first set, Ashland gutted out three long-set wins to win its fifth match in a row.
STAT OF THE DAY: In sets 2-4, the Eagles held the Chargers to a cumulative hitting percentage of .136.
Thanks to a season-long five-match winning streak, everything is in front of Ashland University's volleyball team.
The fifth match in that streak was Saturday (Oct. 22) afternoon at Kates Gymnasium, a 3-1 (24-26, 25-23, 25-23, 29-27) decision over Hillsdale. The Eagles are 15-8 overall and 6-5 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while the Chargers are 13-8, 5-5.
"I was really proud of the way the girls fought," said Ashland head coach Cass Dixon. "They fought the entire time. They didn't give up. They just kept coming back and making plays."
In less than 24 hours, Ashland has worked its way back into a spot in the GLIAC Tournament, if the season ended today.
Ashland has won five matches in a row for the first time since Oct. 17-31, 2015.
Hillsdale took the day's first set, then led 8-3 in the second set. Ashland rallied for ties of 15-all, 20-all and 21-all. With the score tied at 23, the Eagles got back-to-back kills from freshman outside hitter Shelby Woycik to knot the match at 1.
A tight third set saw Hillsdale up 23-22 before Ashland ran off the last three points for a 2-1 sets advantage. The fourth set found the Chargers up 22-18 before an Eagle timeout, after which Ashland came out and worked the score to a 25-all tie.
"Time was definitely was not on our side in the fourth set," Dixon said. "We came back and had some great defensive plays that kept us in the match."
Five Ashland players ended with double-digit kills – senior outside hitter Alli Cudworth (15), Woycik (14), Clark (13), Neal (12) and freshman middle blocker Sophi Cudworth (11). Alli Cudworth added 18 digs for her 12th double-double of 2016.
All of Ashland's five consecutive Ws have come since the team's lineup change, which has, among other things, moved Clark back to outside hitter, Alli Cudworth to right-side hitter and Aguayo to libero.
"We're just so much more well-balanced. We're just a threat at every position," said Dixon. "Not that we weren't before, but it's more consistent than what we were doing previously. Alli on the right side just gives us a different dimension."
UP NEXT: Ashland will finish the month of October with a road match on Friday (Oct. 28) at 7 p.m. at Walsh.