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


Team’s run ends in second round

The Gannon University volleyball team’s season came to an end with a 3-1 loss to California University of Pennsylvania Saturday, after a historic first-round NCAA win over Mercyhurst University Thursday.

The Knights, who had been tantalizingly close to advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the past two years, were finally able to, as Coach Matt Darling said, “get over the hump,” a feeling he said could not be explained in words.

In order to accomplish the task of advancing to the second round, however, Gannon had to beat rival Mercyhurst for the third time this season.

“I was definitely nervous,” Darling said. “It’s scary to play a team for a fourth time.”

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The team was up to the challenge, however, by controlling most of the match, aside from the second set and a 10-point stretch in the fourth and final set that ended with a kill from sophomore setter Megan Wendel off of a tight pass.

The Saturday match against Cal was conversely controlled by the Vulcans, as the Knights were unable to generate the type of offense that had helped make them so successful throughout the season, but senior outside hitter Lauren Sazama did give due credit to a strong opponent in Cal.

“Our season had to end sometime, and we lost to a great team,” she said.

Darling said that the loss was not connected with any lack of effort.

“It just wasn’t our weekend,” Darling said. “We’re a young team still. Most of the season we didn’t look like it; this weekend we did. It just didn’t happen for us.

“I’m not going to let one off-weekend tarnish a brilliant 2012 season.”

The season will go down as one of the most successful in the program’s history, with a first-ever PSAC championship, as well as an NCAA tournament appearance and first-round victory. Darling noted the conference championship as this year’s team’s crowning achievement, especially for the three seniors – Sazama, Morgan Reineke and Sarah Glancy.

“It’s the culminating event of their college careers,” he said. “Everybody wants to win a championship, but to do it in your senior year, after coming to a program that was derelict for so many years, is the ultimate compliment to their perseverance, their talent and their ability to come together when it mattered most.”

Sazama and Reineke, two of the conference’s leading outside hitters, both said that the conference title is an achievement they could not be more proud of.

“It made the end of my career one I will never forget,” Sazama said.

Moving into the offseason, Darling said he is excited to get back to work with a dedicated group of underclassmen.

“They just want to be good,” he said. “The person who was crying the hardest at the end of the [Cal] game? [Freshman] Morgan Walters. She was inconsolable. I love that. That kid wants it.”

While the underclassmen and coaches start thinking about the work next year’s season will hold for them, the seniors can look back on their careers that include some monumental moments.

“It’s been a long time since Gannon volleyball has been this successful,” Reineke said. “All our hard work produced a PSAC championship and another NCAA banner to hang in the ‘Mill. No one will ever be able to take that away from us.”



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