After falling to Millersville University on Tuesday, the Shippensburg University Volleyball team snapped its four-match losing streak by winning the final two matches of the regular season on the road, defeating Lock Haven University and University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown by set scores of 3-2. The four-match losing streak was the longest such streak for SU since 2014.
Despite the loss against Millersville, the Raiders clinched a berth for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoffs on Tuesday but seeding and matchup were yet to be determined going into the game against UPJ.
With the five-set victory over UPJ, the Raiders secured the No. 5 seed in the PSAC playoffs and will have to travel back to UPJ for a Tuesday night quarterfinal matchup with the Mountain Cats. The season series between the two squads is tied at one apiece, with the road team victorious in both matchups.
The Raiders came close to hosting their first PSAC playoff match since 2015, when they went on to win the conference championship, but the third conference tiebreaker was ultimately used to determine seeding.
Both schools finished with a 13-5 conference record and with 35 points in the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) points system (three points for win in 304 sets, two points for win in five sets, one point for loss in five sets), but the Mountain Cats won 43 sets in PSAC matches compared to 42 for Shippensburg, according to the Raiders’ website.
Friday’s victory over Lock Haven saw the return of freshman setter Emily Hangen after she missed a few matches due to injury. She made an immediate impact in the lineup as she recorded a career-high 57 assists which was the third 50-assist match of her young career.
The Raiders went on to ultimately tally 70 kills against the Bald Eagles, the most since 2014 when SU hit 73 in a victory over Winston-Salem State.
Another outstanding performance for the Raiders came from sophomore Samantha Webber. She also had a career high in kills with 22 on 44 attempts. She committed just four errors, good for a stellar .409 hitting percentage.
Junior Morgan DeFloria continued her powerful season, scoring another double-double with a season-high 21 kills and 14 digs.
Another Raider career high was achieved in the match, this time by sophomore Megan Forstburg as she finished with 34 digs to lead all players.
As is par for the course with back-to-back matchups, the Raiders had to quickly pack their bags and travel from Lock Haven to Johnstown for an afternoon contest with the Mountain Cats on Saturday.
After dropping the opening set by a score of 25–17, the Raiders took the next two sets from the Mountain Cats, 25–23 and 25–21, respectively, to take a 2-1 set lead.
With a chance to close out the match, SU went up early in the fourth set, taking an 8–4 lead but UPJ mounted a comeback and finished the set on a 7–1 run to take the set victory 25–16.
In the decisive fifth set, played to a score of 15, the scoring was back-and-fourth, ultimately leading to the score tied at 13. Two straight kills by Webber finished off the Mountain Cats as the Raiders won the set 15–13 and edged out the victory by a match score of 3–2.
Hangen proved pivotal once again as she recorded 45 assists in the victory. In the final two matches of the regular season, Hangen notched a total of 92 over that span.
Sophomore Gabriella Johnson finished with 12 kills, hitting at a .278 percentage, while DeFloria led the Raiders with 17. Sophomore Kendall Johnson was the third Raider with double-digit kills with 13.
With the 2017 PSAC Volleyball Championship field set, the winner of Tuesday’s matchup between the Raiders and Mountain Cats will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of No. 1 Indiana University of Pennsylvania and No. 8 Edinboro University.
The other side of the Quarterfinal bracket features No. 3 Seton Hill University playing No. 6 West Chester University and No. 2 Gannon University going up against No. 7 Clarion University, with the higher seed hosting in all matchups. All quarterfinal contests are set to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The semifinal matchups will take place on Friday while the championship match will be held on Saturday, November 18. The highest remaining seed in the field will host both semifinal matchups and the championship game.