Shippensburg University is witnessing one of the best teams in its history enjoy a dominating spell at the top of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
The volleyball team has been on a tear since the first couple weeks of the season, winning a school-record 15 matches in a row after losing two of its first three games. The team also had won eight straight matches in set sweeps before the weekend.
SU faced East Stroudsburg University and Kutztown University in a pair of away PSAC matches, looking to extend its school-record win streak. No team in SU history has experienced such a successful and dominating period as this team has at this point in the season.
The streak of set sweeps came to an end in the match against East Stroudsburg, but there were no nerves after that dropped set as the Raiders finished the match for their 14th-straight victory. The weekend started out with a sweep of Kutztown by scores of 25–18, 25–18 and 25–14.
Senior outside hitter Morgan DeFloria continued her exceptional season with a team-high 13 kills and finished with a hitting percentage of .273. Sophomore setter Emily Hansen has been one of the biggest stories of the Raiders’ season so far, leading the team by a wide margin in assists. She contributed 36 assists in the match and also threw in three aces and nine digs.
SU has a strong core of juniors that has been leading the team all season, including defensive specialist Megan Forstburg. Forstburg has become the team leader in terms of digs. After leading the team in the statistic last season, she is already on pace to break her previous high of 554 digs in the season.
She led the team in digs against Kutztown with 16 to go with five assists. Forstburg now has 333 digs on the season, bringing her career total up to 1,189 — good for 11th on SU’s all-time digs leader list.
Junior middle hitter Kendall Johnson was all over the court on Friday, leading the team with a .500 hitting percentage to go with 11 kills, as well as four block assists — a team-high. Junior outside hitter Gabriella Johnson was also a big piece in the win, throwing in nine kills, 14 digs and three block assists. She also had two aces on a .474 hitting percentage.
Despite a good start from Kutztown, the Raiders stormed back in the first set to claim the win, before closing out the final two sets on strong runs, scoring seven of the last nine points in the second set and 10 of the last 14 in the third.
The match against East Stroudsburg posed a bigger threat to the Raiders as the Warriors have had a very good first half of the season, posting a record of 15–2 record going into the SU matchup.
The Warriors grabbed the first set, ending the nine-match streak of straight-sweep victories for the Raiders.
SU, however, responded very well, claiming the next three sets by scores of 25–19, 25–18 and 25–21 to move past ESU in convincing fashion.
The usual leaders were out in full force again, as DeFloria led the way with a double-double, posting 15 kills and 18 digs on a .204 hitting percentage. Gabriella Johnson also had a double-double, with a team-high 16 kills as well as 15 digs.
Hansen continued her assist clinic, connecting for 49 assists on the night. She also grabbed nine digs, two aces and two block assists. Junior middle blocker Samantha Webber had a big night on the court, knocking in 13 kills with three solo blocks and three block assists on .273 hitting.
The first set went down to the wire as the Raiders and Warriors were tied at 22 late in the set before ESU scored the final three points to claim the victory. SU closed out the win with a dominant showing in the final set, jumping out to a 13–5 lead before sealing the win with four of the last eight points.
Now six matches into PSAC play, the Raiders are the only undefeated team left standing after defeating two fellow conference squads in California and, now, East Stroudsburg.
The team will look to extend the streak today at Heiges Field House when it takes on Pitt-Johnstown. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. as the Raiders continue their long stretch of conference matchups