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Volleyball dominates weekend

Nov 4 • Sports, Volleyball • 519

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The Gannon University volleyball team continued its hot streak for yet another week.
The Knights extended their record against PSAC teams in the month of October to 8-2 with a pair of weekend victories in which they dominated.
Friday night was spent beating East Stroudsburg, 3-0, by scores of 25-14, 25-15 and 25-14, and the Knights followed that up with another sweep Saturday against Kutztown, 25-19, 25-17, 25-20.
The dual wins enabled the Knights to improve to 11-2 in PSAC play and 22-3 overall.
Friday’s game featured many outstanding performances, including one by Sara Crandall, who recorded 15 digs to move past the 1,000-dig mark for her career.
This is a goal that teammates Hannah Kren and Jordan Thiery have already met in the last year. To have a defensive front that includes three players with that statistic is outstanding.
Another achievement that can’t be overshadowed is coach Matt Darling getting his 200th win as Gannon’s head coach. However, Darling credits his wins to the players because without them it wouldn’t be possible.
“To me, this is an achievement by the team, and I’m proud of the good work the players have done,” Darling said.
Darling arrived at Gannon in 2007, taking over a team that had been 6-20 the previous season. During Darling’s 10-year tenure, the team has won 20 games eight straight seasons and has made the NCAA tournament in each of its last seven seasons.
This includes 2012, when the team had its best season under Darling with a 29-6 overall mark and a PSAC championship. In 2015, meanwhile, the Knights reached the Division II Sweet 16 and finished 24-11.
Darling said the team radiates with much talent and that has obviously helped with the Knights’ success.
“The biggest difference this year is that we have the most depth we’ve ever had,” Darling said. “If someone is hurt or having an off night, we have players who can step in and make things better for the team; that’s a real strength of this particular team.”
Overall in his career at Gannon, Darling’s teams have compiled a record of 200-107 going into Friday’s 7 p.m. matchup against Cheyney at the Hammermill Center.
During the wins over East Stroudsburg and Kutztown, the Knights amassed some impressive totals.
Outside hitter Kelsey Ansec recorded a total of 26 kills this weekend and four blocks, with 18 of those kills coming in the win over Kutztown. Teammate and middle blocker Lauren Beck contributed 16 kills and four blocks for the weekend.
This was also a standout weekend for redshirt senior setter Lisa Gropler, who racked up 37 assists and seven digs between the two games.
Gannon used a pair of late runs to secure two of the sets in the win over Kutztown. The Knights trailed 9-5 in the opening set before ultimately catching the Bears and finishing the set with a 6-1 run. Gannon used a 7-1 spurt at the end of the second set to put that win away.
Going into the weekend, Darling wants the team to be its most successful that day and worry about tomorrow when it comes.
“Keep your focus on the thing that you have to do today,” Darling said. “That approach has worked for us so far, and it’s the approach that will get us to where we want to be when it comes time for the playoffs.”
Following Friday’s match with Cheyney, the Knights will host West Chester at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Hammermill Center.
Cheyney will be coming in with a PSAC record of 0-13 and a 3-19 overall mark. West Chester is 18-8 overall but 6-7 in PSAC play.

MATTHEW NEWARA
newara008@knights.gannon.edu

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