The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Youth takes center court

The Gannon University volleyball team dug into the 2012 season with a 2-1 record at its annual Gannon Invitational with wins over Davis & Elkins University and Caldwell College and a loss to Wisconsin-Parkside University.

A new crop of freshmen rounds out the roster that had been led by seniority in the 2011 season. With the new additions, Gannon’s roster is drastically skewed in favor of youth.

The Knights will look for a strong core of senior leadership from Lauren Sazama, who led the team in kills last weekend with 39, as well as Morgan Reineke, who moved from her familiar position at the outside pin to the middle and opposite Sarah Glancy.

Though the stat sheet is still dominated by seniority, coach Matt Darling said the team still has some soul-searching to do.

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“Three of our four top hitters are seniors, and you could say ‘yeah, same old, same old,’ but what’s behind that is a team that’s still really looking for its identity,” he said.

Sophomore setter Megan Wendel, who has taken over the reins of the offense after the team graduated its seasoned starter of two seasons, also said the team would be battling against the youth factor, but that she believes it to be a positive.

“We’re in a good position because we have so much room to grow,” she said. “We have a long way to go, but we’re going to get there.”

Wendel, who dished out nearly 100 assists over the course of the three matches, said that she feels well acclimated to her new leadership role at the helm of the offense.

“It’s nerve racking, but at the same time relieving because I know what certain things I have to focus on to help us win and play well together.”

With all three matches ending in just three sets apiece, two in Gannon’s favor, the gap in competition levels of the opponents was something that Darling said manifested itself against a talented Parkside team.

“I think we were up for it emotionally, but a lot of small things added up to us being unable to keep up with them,” he said. “Their one outside just tore us up. She played for Loyola [University] for a year, she’s 6-2.”

Despite falling short of a perfect 3-0 weekend, the Knights put up a good fight against Parkside as they let slip a 22-20 lead in the first set and rallied to close a six-point gap that would eventually prove to be insurmountable. Closing out tight sets is something Darling said will be an ongoing point of contention for the team.

“We need to finish sets,” he said. “If we’re in the lead at 22, we need to finish that.”

With that being addressed, Darling said he was pleased with the weekend’s overall outcome.

“Some of our real young players did a nice job for us,” he said. “Kayla Knickerbocker is our leading hitter in terms of percentage and our leading blocker, so that’s great.”

Recognizing her role as a senior and a leader, both statistically and emotionally, Sazama said she has not been feeling pressured to change the way she approaches each game.

“I go out there and play like I normally do,” she said. “It’s my last year of playing volleyball, and I just want to play all-out for my team.”

Continuing non-conference play, Gannon will compete this weekend in the Gannon-Mercyhurst Invitational with games against West Virginia State University and Lake Erie College on Friday and Holy Family University and Ohio Dominican University on Saturday.

According to Darling, the team will continue to work on side out efficiency, serve receive and hitting percentage throughout the week, in addition to continue searching for an answer to the question of identity that will ultimately determine the season’s outcome.



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