Gannon volleyball upsets No. 1 team in the nation


Gannon University’s volleyball team listens to coach Matt Darling at a game against Georgian Court on Feb. 14. The Knights defeated the No. 1 team in the country, Hillsdale, Saturday.

Nicholas Frisina, Sports Writer

The Gannon University volleyball team upset No. 1-ranked Hillsdale College Saturday, 3-1, in Hillsdale, Mich.

After losing the first set 25-15, Gannon (3-0) went on to beat the Chargers – who entered the match unbeaten in 10 starts — in the final three sets.

Lauren Sampson stepped up in a big way for the Knights, as she led the team with a double-double that included 13 digs and 11 kills.

Although Gannon won the final three sets, they were all close matches. Gannon won the second and third sets 25-22. The last set the Knights pulled ahead 25-18.

In the second set, the Knights took the lead, 6-4, after a kill from Laura Bebinger. From that point on, each team took turns sharing the lead, until Maggie Greenfield ignited a 4-0 scoring run with a kill.

The score was 19-14 and Gannon eventually secured the second set, 25-22, tying the match at 1-1.

The Knights started out strong in the third set. After a service ace from Maddie Blake, Gannon held the lead at 10-6.

As a result of some errors from Hillsdale, Gannon was able to take advantage of the mistakes and won the third set 25-22.

The Knights came out even stronger in the fourth set than the third, jumping out to an 8-3 lead.

Hillsdale was not finished yet; the Chargers came back and tied the game at 10-10.

After an important kill from Bebinger late in the match, Gannon was able to win the final set 25-18 to upset Hillsdale.

Gannon coach Matt Darling talked about how the team prepared to go on the road to face the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.

“The players understood that this was going to be a big match,” he said. “And, more importantly, a great opportunity to learn about our strengths and weaknesses.”

After preparing this week, Darling said his players began to develop confidence heading into the match.

“All week, the team’s attitude was, ‘We’re going in there to win, not just to play,’” he said. “That attitude gave us confidence and eventually put us over the top in the match.”

Prior to this upset victory, the Knights had played just two games so far in their spring season. They have also had seven games canceled.

Despite cancellations, Darling and his team find themselves having more appreciation for opportunities to practice and play together and especially opportunities to take down the top-ranked team.

Darling’s approach to big wins like this is the same as it is in a typical season: move on to the next day. Still, a big win like this is sure to be memorable for everyone involved in the program.

“I imagine that, a few years in the future, everyone in our program will look back and remember the night we beat the nation’s No. 1 team,” Darling said. “That will probably always be a great memory for the players and coaches.”

Looking ahead, Gannon has 12 games left on its spring schedule. The Knights’ next matchup will be a double-header at Clarion University at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday.

[email protected]