The Shippensburg University volleyball team was challenged with one of its toughest pair of weekend matches as it faced off against two of the top teams in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
The Raiders hosted Clarion University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) at Heiges Field House, splitting the Friday and Saturday contests.
The Raiders went toe-to-toe against Clarion on Friday winning in a thrilling five-set match with set scores of 25-22, 20-25, 21-25, 25-19 and 18-16.
The contest, which featured two of the PSAC’s Top 6 teams, saw 37 ties and 16 lead changes with eight ties in the exhilarating fifth set.
SU capped off the first set with a kill from sophomore Samantha Webber and finished on a 7-4 run to break an 18-18 tie.
The Golden Eagles responded in the second set by scoring seven of the first 10 points in the match. The Raiders held tough in the set as they fought back to tie the scoring at 9-9 but Clarion came away with the set victory, 25-20.
Tied at one set apiece heading into the third set, Clarion again got off to a hot start by taking a quick 5-1 lead. Back and forth action saw SU tie the set seven times, ultimately tying the game at 18-18, as Clarion prevailed to take a 2-1 match advantage.
Staring in the face of defeat, the Raiders put forth a strong fourth set as they once again battled back and forth with Clarion.
SU got help off the bench in the set as freshman Meagan McDonald immediately made an impact.
McDonald hit two service aces and caused the Golden Eagles to commit an attack error which helped clinch the set victory for SU, 25-19.
The shortened fifth set, played to 15 points with at least a two-point lead, saw the Golden Eagles rally from a 14-12 deficit as they fended off two match points to come within one point of the victory twice, 15-14 and 16-15.
SU would not let the victory get taken away as it scored the final three points of the match after it was tied at 16-16 finished off with a kill from Webber.
Pacing the Raiders in the match was Webber with 18 kills as she contributed to four of SU’s eight blocks on the night.
Recording her 11th double-double of the season was junior Morgan DeFloria who had 12 kills and 22 digs. Freshman Emily Hangen tallied 53 assists, coming just two shy of her career high.
The euphoria of Friday’s electrifying victory over Clarion and quick turnaround deemed trouble for SU as the Raiders battled a strong IUP squad less than 24-hours later on Saturday. They ended up ultimately falling in three straight sets, 25-23, 25-17, and 25-17.
Despite the quick turnaround, SU kept pace with the Crimson Hawks in the first set, as it was tied 23-23 before IUP scored the final two points.
The Crimson Hawk attack helped IUP prevail in the match as it went on to win the final two sets with scores 25-17, respectfully, and used a 5-0 score to open up the final set.
DeFloria recorded yet another double-double in the match with 10 kills and 14 digs while Webber contributed 12 of her own. Sophomore Megan Forstburg contributed a team-high 16 digs as sophomore Gabriella Johnson added five kills and four digs.
The defeat in Saturday’s contest marks just the first time SU surrendered a sweep at home since Oct. 30, 2015. The Raiders have been especially dominating inside Heiges Field House since the start of the 2015 season, and have been 32-8 on their home court.
With aspirations building to clinch a PSAC playoff spot, SU now travels for four of its remaining five-regular season matches. The playoff push begins 7 p.m. Friday at California University of Pennsylvania.