The Shippensburg University volleyball team is on a tear. The squad won its last five matches including the one last Saturday, in which it defeated host West Virginia State (20–25, 25–16, 25–13,25–21). The Raiders also defeated Shepherd (25–23, 23–25, 25-19, 25-15) in a match held at the Convocation Center in Institute, West Virginia.
The Raiders were hitting .207 as a team last weekend. A bright spot for the Raiders on Saturday was Emily Hangen, who averaged 11 and a half assists on the day, as well as directing three and a half digs per set. The middle players for SU continued to play effectively, collecting 48 kills, 14 blocks and had a hitting percentage of .316.
Juniors Kendall Johnson and Samantha Webber came up huge during Saturday’s double-header, as Johnson hit the highest on the team with an average hitting percentage of .440 (13-2-25) against West Virginia State. Webber hit .317 (16-3-5) against West Virginia State and against Shepherd during the second game, averaging a .294 hitting percentage (13-3-34) and tallying five blocks. SU senior Morgan DeFloria finished with a double-double of 16 kills and added a total of 20 digs while playing against Shepherd.
DeFloria had an average hitting percentage of .229 with four blocks against Shepherd and tallied a .212 hitting percentage (15-4-52) and three aces during the double-header. DeFloria also came up with nine aces in the beginning match against West Virginia State. With two weeks of the season already behind her, DeFloria has had double-digit kills in all of the matches the Raiders have played and is currently swinging an average of .219.
Junior Megan Forstburg added 49 digs to her season total, while redshirt-senior Courtney Malott distributed 37 digs. Junior Gabriella Johnson had 15 kills and 30 digs on the day.
The team continued the streak over the weekend, making it nine straight wins after defeating No. 14 Wheeling Jesuit and Fairmont State. The team also took down West Liberty University and the University of Charleston on Friday. Coming into Saturday, the Raiders had a 10-game losing streak to Wheeling Jesuit and were looking to finally break that trend.
The Raiders not only got a signature win and broke their losing streak to the Cardinals, they did it on the Cardinals’ home floor. SU — now 10–2 on the young season — defeated the Cardinals by match sets of 25–23, 25–22 and 25–22; the victory marks the first victory for the Raiders over Wheeling Jesuit since Oct. 6 of the 2006 season.
The loss for Wheeling Jesuit also marked just its second loss in 144 matches since the 2013 season, which is pretty remarkable. In the game against Wheeling, the Raiders won blocks by a 14–5 margin.
Gabriella Johnson was outstanding against WJU. She posted a double-double and would go on to have a season high of 14 kills. She added 14 digs to match a hitting percentage of .286 (14-2-22), and also added five blocks against WJU.
Webber was a big asset in SU’s defense during the matches. Webber had a career-high eight block assists, which is a significant number since it is the most by a Raider since Taylor Gottshall had eight against UPJ in October 2014.
In the matches against Fairmont State, Gabriella Johnson had another stellar performance, posting another double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs, while posting a hitting percentage of .375. To recap Johnson’s star-studded day, she had 24 kills, hit .318 and totaled 26 digs. Webber totaled 22 kills, nine blocks and swung .255 on the day.
DeFloria continued to rise to the occasion, leading the Raiders with 25 digs and a hitting percentage of .239. DeFloria also totaled double-doubles in both of the matches during the day. Hangen had a hitting percentage of .258, totaled 80 assists on the day and grabbed 23 digs to go along with six blocks and three kills.
In the middle, Kendall Johnson offered 12 kills and had eight blocks, while sophomore Alana Pergine provided 10 kills and three blocks. Forstburg provided the defensive attack with 34 digs on the day. The Raiders will kick off their Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) contests in their next game at IUP on Friday at 7 p.m.