Volleyball sweeps WVIAC teams

Improved passing and an onslaught of offense helped the Gannon University women’s volleyball team pummel four WVIAC teams over the weekend in its first home matches of the season.

Senior setter Alex DelPiombo led her team’s offense by doling out a stunning 94 assists in four matches against the University of Pitsburgh at Johnstown, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Seton Hill University and Alderson-Broaddus College. DelPiombo was also an asset to her team with her strong serving, committing only one service error in 42 attempts.

DelPiombo’s ability to be an effective facilitator for her attackers stemmed directly from the team’s improved passing, which was a weak point in its four losses the previous weekend.

“We passed well and that gave me a lot of options,” she said. “All of our hitters were putting the ball away so all I had to do was get it to them.”

The Knights passed an average of 1.88, an improvement from the 1.7 they passed last weekend in St. Louis. This statistic is out of a perfect three, which would mean that the passes were perfect enough to have all three hitters be an option for the setter. A two average would mean that it was only possible to set two hitters, usually the outsides, as the setter usually cannot get the ball to the middle on a two pass.

Coach Matt Darling said he is pleased to see improvement in this area, and that it allowed the team to get into a better offensive rhythm. However, he said he is still not satisfied with where the number is at.

“It was better than the 1.7 we passed in St. Louis, but that number needs to be more like 2.1 or 2.2 before I’ll feel very good about it,” he said.

Though Darling still sees room to improve in passing, it was good enough to bolster the team to victory by offensive contributions from a variety of hitters.

Junior outside hitters Lauren Sazama and Morgan Reineke put up their usual impressive numbers on offense, as Sazama ended with 35 kills and Reineke finished with 36. They were able to avoid double blocks and get one-on-one opportunities because the team was able to use multiple hitters, decreasing the offense’s predictability.

Darling said this is key to their offense and kept their opponents on their toes.

Senior middle hitter Kara Cullen was a threat in all four matches, racking up 23 kills in four matches. Junior Sarah Glancy added 13, and also led the team with strong serving, totaling 12 aces for the weekend.

“Our hitting percentage was absurdly high all weekend,” Darling said. “We made very few hitting errors, which helped keep the pressure on the other teams.”

Darling also felt good about being the only Pennsylvania State ateam to sweep this group of regional opponents because two of them have already pulled upsets over several of Gannon’s PSAC rivals. West Virginia Wesleyan took out both IUP and Mercyhurst, and Seton Hill upset Clarion.

“These teams can play, and they’re dangerous when they have momentum,” he said. “We did a good job of preventing them from going on long scoring runs.”

Glancy said she feels confident about going into Friday’s crossover PSAC matches and that she’s ready for the challenge.

“We know they can play, but we’ve proven we can too,” she said. “If we keep our passing consistent, our offense will be just as solid against them.”

The team will look to steal a win from Lock Haven, who has one of the best division two players in the country in Xuan Gao. Darling also said Shippensburg will be a tough opponent, as they have been steadily improving the past couple years and may be ready to pull off an upset.

“We’ll need to be sharp in all areas of the game,” Darling said. “And we’ll have to endure a grueling schedule.”

CHRISTINE PEFFER

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