Gannon splits tough weekend matches

The Gannon University volleyball team battled for first place in the PSAC West over the weekend at Clarion and gave the nearly 300 fans a midseason taste of high-caliber playoff volleyball.

The Knights dropped another close match on the road, losing to the Eagles 3-2.  The match swung back and forth as the teams traded the first three sets before Clarion (16-1, 8-1) stole the final two.

A season-high attendance for the Knights saw sophomore standout Hannah Kren continue an excellent season with 18 kills against the conference’s No. 1 dig defense.

“My approach to games is just to stay positive and simply play,” Kren said.  “I have been working on different shots so my game is not one-dimensional or predictable.  Even though teams know about me, it does not have any effect, but makes my drive to win even stronger.”

Kren attributes much of her success to starting setter, senior Megan Wendel, a two-time all-conference player and a two-time All-Atlantic Region honorable mention choice who is fourth on Gannon’s all-time assist list.  She makes things easier for outside hitters like Kren.

Although the tandem is as talented as any in the conference, the Knights fell short in consecutive outings before bouncing back with a road victory against Indiana (Pa.) on Saturday to improve to 14-2 overall and 7-2 in the PSAC West.

Wendel said she was unhappy with the losses but the matches were not completely worthless.

“I think one major benefit we got from losing those two big games is that we remember how much it hurts to lose,” Wendel said.

“To work so hard in practice and know that all your effort and commitment to the sport you love just wasn’t good enough – it’s humbling.”

Gannon has yet to be beaten at home, let alone lose a set at the Hammermill Center, but the captain isn’t satisfied the least bit.

“Being on the road is no excuse for losing and it can’t be because we have so many road games this year,” Wendel said.  “We can’t settle for just being undefeated at home.”

The team now sits at 14-2 overall and 7-2 in the conference.  With a four-game PSAC East-West crossover hosted by Slippery Rock this weekend, the Knights will face the top two teams in the Eastern Division – Lock Haven (12-5) and Pitt-Johnstown (9-5) – on Friday before playing Millersville and Shippensburg on Saturday.

The weight of an undefeated season now lifted, Gannon will refocus and look for another run over the second half.  The PSAC’s No. 1 statistical outside hitter and the Knights are revamped and ready for the last 13 games of the regular season.

ADAM BLAZEK

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