No. 21 Gannon women’s volleyball outlasts Clarion, Mercyhurst, IUP


The 21st-ranked Gannon University volleyball team didn’t need to go far for its latest triumph, as the Knights went just across town Tuesday night to sweep rival Mercyhurst, 3-0 (25-21, 25-10, 25-21).
The win, combined with a weekend sweep of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Clarion, left the Knights 17-1 overall and 6-1 in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play going into a pair of PSAC home matches over the weekend.
Ashley McClung led Gannon with 13 kills.
The Knights extended their winning streak to six by sweeping IUP, 3-0, Saturday but needed five sets to edge Clarion, 3-2, the previous night. Both matches were played on the road.
Gannon coach Matt Darling was happy with the win over IUP – Gannon’s 12th sweep of the season – and the hard-fought victory over Clarion.
“It was a good weekend for us, as we faced two tough teams on the road,” he said. “Getting two wins keeps us in a position to play meaningful matches moving forward, and that is what we are trying to do.”
Sophomore standout Ashley Kerestes said everyone on the team is working hard and being supportive with each other, which she believes will help the Knights achieve greatness in 2018.
“If we continue to do this as the season progresses and learn from our mistakes, there is no doubt in my mind that we will be bringing home two big trophies this year,” she said.
Saturday’s game started with back-to-back kills from McClung, which helped Gannon jump out to a 6-3 lead in the first set. Three straights points from the Knights put them up 15-9 in the first set.
Lauren Sampson notched back-to-back kills as Gannon took the first set, 25-19.
After an even start to the second set, Gannon rattled off three points in a row for a 9-6 edge. Toni Leitshuh recorded a service ace as Gannon led 13-9 in set two. Kerestes closed the second set with a kill, 21-13 for the Knights.
Gannon posted four consecutive points to take a 9-5 lead in the third set. Gannon rolled to seven straight points with three of them coming off aces from Ashley Beyers. The Knights scored the final three points of the match to take the third set, 25-20.
Friday’s game against Clarion was the first five-set contest of the season. Three Knights – McClung, Sampson and Ally Smith – put down double-digit kills, as McClung finished with 16, Sampson 15 and Smith 11.
After an even start to the first set, Smith’s kill gave Gannon a 6-5 lead. The Knights pulled ahead 10-5 after a pair of kills from Sampson and Kerestes, but Clarion rallied to take the set, 25-22.
Gannon responded in resounding fashion with a 25-11 win in set two, the most lopsided set of the night. The Knights used runs of five straight points and nine straight points to take control of the set. But Clarion countered with a 25-17 victory in the third set.
The Knights rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the fourth set with nine consecutive points, highlighted by kills from Kerestes and Smith, for an 11-7 lead. A quick 4-0 run handed Gannon a 20-14 lead in the fourth set. Smith closed the fourth set with a kill off a set from Beyers as Gannon tied the match at 2-2.
Gannon opened the match-deciding fifth set with a 3-1 lead. The Knights closed the final set with the last seven points for a 15-10 victory.
Cris Del Diego
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