Friday, November 19, 2010

Gannon Volleyball Team Falls to No. 24 Wheeling Jesuit in NCAA Tournament First Round

EDINBORO, Pa. - The results of Friday’s NCAA Division II Women’s Volleyball Tournament first-round contest was unfortunately similar to last year’s. West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) champion Wheeling Jesuit won the first two sets and posted a 3-1 victory against Gannon at Edinboro University’s McComb Fieldhouse, ending the Lady Knights’ campaign for the second consecutive season. The decision came by scores of 25-22, 25-18, 25-27 and 25-18.

No. 24 Wheeling Jesuit came out of the gate simply on fire, hitting an amazing .436 during the first set and .303 during the second set. Meanwhile, Gannon countered with a negative .031 mark in the second frame. The result was two Cardinal victories by scores of 25-22 and 25-18.

Gannon rallied in the third frame with several spectacular defensive rallies. Trailing 11-5, the Lady Knights went on an 8-1 run to assume a 13-12 advantage. The run was highlighted by an unbelievable defensive display by Lauren Sazama (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville) that eventually resulted in a kill by Kara Cullen (Marstons Mills, Mass./Barnstable). The point was the start of seven straight by the Lady Knights.

The third set featured seven ties after that stretch. The two teams were deadlocked at 20, 22, 23, 24 and 25. Wheeling Jesuit had match point twice, Cullen fended off defeat both times. She came up with kills when the Cardinals led 24-23 and 25-24. Morgan Reineke (New Knoxville, Ohio/New Knoxville) followed Cullen’s second kill with one of her own for a 26-25 Gannon lead, before a Wheeling Jesuit attack error gave the Lady Knights a thrilling 27-25 win in the third set.

Much like most the contest, the fourth set see-sawed back and forth. The frame had six ties, before Wheeling Jesuit took control. Initially, Gannon used a 7-2 run to grab a 12-9 edge. Two service aces, along with two kills from both Sazama and Cullen, spurred the blitz.

Wheeling Jesuit battled back and forged ties at 13 and 14, before putting the match away. The Cardinals snapped a 14-14 tie with five straight points and never looked back, slowly stretching the lead until Allissa Ware’s kill provided the final score of 25-18.

Cullen headlined the Gannon offensive attack, recording a game-high .417 attack percentage. The junior middle blocker had a team-high 13 kills and four blocks while recording only three errors in 24 attempts.

Sazama and Reineke both produced double-doubles. Sazama produced her 15th double-dip of the season with 12 kills and a career-high 20 digs. Reineke had her ninth double-double and fifth in the last six matches with 10 kills and 10 digs.

Lindsey Deitmen (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) completed Gannon’s group of double-kill performers with 10 kills.

Alex DelPiombo (Monroe, Mich./St. Mary’s Catholic Central) ran the offensive with 34 assists and eight digs. Kendall Fischer (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia) did a fine job as setter during limited action, dishing out seven assists and making three digs. Jess Saunders (Hinckley, Ohio/Highland) had 16 digs as Gannon’s libero.

Gannon’s season came to an end at 20-10 overall. The program recorded back-to-back 20-win seasons and back-to-back NCAA Division II Tournament appearances for the first time since 1995. Wheeling Jesuit improved to 33-4 and advanced to the second round against Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) champion Clarion. The Golden Eagles swept Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) champion Chowan 3-0 in Friday’s second match.

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