Three seniors named First Team All-HCAC
Trio of senior hitters named First Team All-HCAC for Bluffton
November 10, 2011
BLUFFTON, Ohio - Bluffton's talented trio of senior hitters were all selected first team Heartland Conference following the 2011 volleyball campaign. Jenna Eshleman (Landisville, Penn./Hempfield) took home her third first team award, while Courtney Zimmerman (Leesburg/Fairfield) and Nicole Wood (Tiffin/Hopewell-Loudon) both collected first team honors for the second time. The three senior hitters will take over 3,000 career kills with them when they graduate in the spring. Junior Heather Schierer (Crescent Springs, Ky./St. Henry) was named honorable mention All-HCAC for the second consecutive season.
Senior Jenna Eshleman, who was only the third volleyball player in Bluffton history to amass over 1,200 career kills and 1,300 digs, returned to form after having her front row time limited last season due to a shoulder injury. She slammed 382 kills while hitting .223 with 429 digs, 25 blocks and 31 service aces. Her 3.26 kills per set in 2011 place her tied for 11th all time. Eshleman's 382 kills leave her tied for 16th on the single-season list at Bluffton. As a testament to her versatility, Eshleman racked up 15 of her 44 career double-doubles as a senior.
Eshleman also leaves an indelible mark on the career record books at Bluffton. In addition to being a four-time Player of the Week in the Heartland Conference, she ranks second all-time with 2.82 kills per set. Her 1,222 kills put her fifth all time and her 1,353 digs place her 13th overall. Eshleman stands eighth all time with a .228 career hitting percentage. She was a first team All-HCAC selection in 2008 and 2009 and she earned HCAC tournament Most Valuable Player honors for leading Bluffton to the NCAA Regionals as a sophomore.
Senior Courtney Zimmerman came to Bluffton to play basketball, but she wound up as one of the top middle hitters in Bluffton volleyball history. She ended her three-year career with the best hitting percentage in school history (.293). Zimmerman's 2.26 kills per set average is the 15th best average for a career while her 770 kills place her tied for 17th all time. An imposing presence at the net, Zimmerman finished in the top 13 all time for blocks (287 total) and blocks per set (.84). She pounded 254 kills and fired 21 aces this season. In addition, Zimmerman stuffed the opposition with 28 solos and 70 block assists in 2011. She picked up her second consecutive first team All-HCAC honor.
Senior Nicole Wood broke into the starting lineup as a freshman and got better each season, earning first team All-HCAC honors for the second time. She was named honorable mention all-conference as a junior. Wood led the Beavers with 399 kills and a 3.35 kills per set average which was the sixth-best average in Bluffton history. Her 399 kills place her 12th on the all-time list. She added 47 blocks, 192 digs and 12 service aces this season. For her career, Wood's 2.81 kills per set put her third all time behind Keri Kuhlman and fellow senior Jenna Eshleman. She finished her career ninth on the career kills list with 1,083 spikes. Wood hit .230 during her four years as a starter, good for seventh on the career list.
Junior Heather Schierer earned her second consecutive second team All-Heartland Conference award. She led the team with 582 digs (10th all time) and 4.89 digs per set (11th all time). The versatile libero ignited Bluffton's offense with her expert passing. After two seasons, Schierer ranks sixth all time with 4.21 digs per set (948 career digs). Schierer is also one of the Beavers' top threats at the service line as she finished with 37 aces this season. Her .42 career aces per set average is the fifth-best all time at Bluffton.
In conjunction with the All-HCAC selections, the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference also announced the All-HCAC Sportsmanship Team for the fall of 2011. Sophomore Lindsay Krohn (Marysville, Ind./New Washington) was selected to the All-Sportsmanship Team from Bluffton. This award has been developed as part of a conference-wide sportsmanship initiative. Members of the All-HCAC Sportsmanship team are selected by the coaches and their teammates as individuals who demonstrate the ideals of positive sportsmanship both on and off the field/court of competition.
The Bluffton University volleyball team fashioned its fourth consecutive 20-win season as the Beavers finished 22-11 overall and 7-2 in the Heartland Conference. When five teams from the HCAC went 7-2, Bluffton earned a share of its second Heartland Conference championship in three years. The Beavers can boast victories over three teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament (Rose-Hulman, Mount Union and Johns Hopkins). This season also marked Bluffton's fourth straight trip to the Heartland Conference tournament semifinals. Full statistics and information on the 2011 volleyball season are available online at www.blufftonbeavers.com/volleyball.