Gannon dominates memorial tourney

The Gannon University women’s volleyball team opened its 2014 season with three consecutive victories at the Tony Banner Memorial Tournament, hosted Friday and Saturday at Tippin Gymnasium in Clarion, Pa.

In game one, Gannon swept the Walsh University Cavaliers with set scores of 25-7, 25-12 and 25-14.

Seniors Emily Carver and Maggie Desrosiers recorded 11 and seven kills, respectively. Carver also contributed two solo blocks and three block assists.

Generating 30 of the team’s 36 total assists, senior Megan Wendel commanded the defense. Sophomore Hannah Kren led Gannon with 17 digs followed by senior Taryn Graham’s 11-dig effort.

Gannon earned a four-set win over Wayne State University in game two, posting set scores of 26-24, 20-25, 26-24 and 25-16.

On offense, Kren and sophomore Jordyn Thiery combined for 28 of Gannon’s 39 kills. Kren registered 15 kills, while Thiery added 13.

Wendel compiled a season-best 45 assists. Reaching double digits in digs were Graham (15), Kren (12) and Thiery (11).

Graham’s 15 digs brought her career total to 1,445, making her the program’s all-time dig leader. She surpassed the former record of 1,440 held by Katie Flower (2003-06).

“I’m lucky that I get to be a part of such a great program and have been able to play on outstanding teams while here at Gannon,” Graham said. “I’m proud to leave a mark.”

Overall, the match featured 33 tied scores and 12 lead changes. It was the first time since 2007 that Gannon beat Wayne State.

Coach Matt Darling said the victory was a solid benchmark for the team.

“We were in charge of that match,” Darling said. “We won that match on our own merits. That was a good win for us.”

In the team’s third and final match of the tournament, Gannon defeated Adelphi University by set scores of 25-23, 21-25, 25-14 and 25-17.

Kren accumulated a team-best 19 kills, while Carver followed with 16. Carver finished the day with a .519 hitting percentage, one solo block and two block assists. Posting a .444 attack percentage, Kren also tallied nine digs.

Graham and Thiery registered 19 and 11 digs, respectively. Wendel contributed 12 digs and 46 assists.

After their outstanding performances, Graham and Carver were each named to the All-Tony Banner Memorial Tournament Team.

Desrosiers, one of the team’s co-captains, said that kicking off with a 3-0 record has helped build confidence.

“We were all thrilled to be on the court again competing,” she said. “I think we worked well together and fed off of each other’s energy.”

Still, she said, the Tony Banner Memorial Tournament was just the beginning.

“I want success for this team both on and off the court,” Desrosiers said. “We’re working toward a championship and I believe we can get there if we put in the work and focus.”

Darling said it’s difficult to tell whether Gannon’s success at the tournament will set the tone for the rest of the season.

“I don’t read too much into any individual weekend or match,” he said. “We know we have to keep working hard, but we also know we could be really good. It’s just one step of a long journey.”

He said his players will continue to push themselves, no matter who they’re up against.

“We’re not going to take any days off,” Darling said. “We’re not going to take any opponents lightly.”

Next on the team’s schedule: the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC)/Mountain East Conference (MEC) Crossover, hosted by Gannon Friday and Saturday. Gannon plays West Virginia State University at 3 p.m. Friday.

APRIL SHERNISKY

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