The Shippensburg University volleyball team finished the week on a high note, bouncing back from a 3-0 road loss at Frostburg State University to snag a 3-1 home win over Shepherd University, completing a season sweep over the Rams. The result puts the Raiders at 16-7 on the year, just one game behind East Stroudsburg for first place in the PSAC East.
Tuesday’s match against Frostburg saw the Bobcats win in straight sets, earning a 25-22, 25-15, 25-23 victory. After a back-and-forth first set with eight lead changes, the Raiders struggled in the second set, with Frostburg going on a 12-2 run to end the set and give them a 2-0 lead.
The Raiders started strong in Set 3, with Shippensburg going up 11-4, but the Bobcats clawed their way back, capitalizing on a 5-0 run late in the set featuring three straight aces to propel their way to victory. The Raiders’ hit percentage on the night was only .048, well below their season average of .177.
Shippensburg then returned home for a Friday night victory against Shepherd, winning in four sets by a score of 25-27, 25-22, 26-24, 25-16. Set one saw Shepherd lead most of the way and take the point, but the Raiders responded aggressively in Set 2, leading the for the entire set and staving off a late 7-1 Rams run to make it a 1-point game.
Set three was very even on both sides, featuring 11 ties and five lead changes, with Shippensburg taking the final four points and winning the set on a kill from junior Emily Gardner.
The Raiders then jumped out to an 8-1 lead in Set 4. While Shepherd had a run to again make it a 1-point game midway through the set, the Raiders finished strong, scoring the final five points and clinching the match thanks to a kill from senior Kaitlyn Townsend.
It was not the prettiest match for either team with a combined 49 errors, 27 from Shippensburg. Sixteen of the 27 were service errors, a new season high for the Raiders. They did also pick up 11 aces, compared to four for the Rams, and saved their best performance for the end with an attack percentage of .355 in the fourth set and a .179 average for the match overall.
Speaking on overcoming the errors, head coach Leanne Piscotty said, “Volleyball is all about errors and momentum, and to have that many service errors but yet feel like you didn’t really lose momentum, just to have great mental recovery skills to not get down on errors … I really liked the mental toughness of what my team showed tonight.”
It was a balanced effort in the Raiders’ victory Friday, with three players recording double-digit kills and another three with 10 or more digs. Freshman Gracen Nutt led Shippensburg in kills with 14, followed by Gardner and Townsend with 12 each. Sophomore Kearstin Davis had 19 digs to lead the team, followed by junior Maddie Clabaugh with 18 and sophomore Berkley Simmons with 15.
Discussing the versatility of the team, Townsend said, “When we have players playing a new spot, we do really good with communicating, so even if they may be nervous about playing somewhere new, we are really good at helping each other and we have each other’s backs.”
She also talked about overcoming the previous loss, saying, “Tuesday really showed us where some of our weaknesses are and what we need to work on. Sometimes you have that one game you need to lose, and that was our game, so now we’re coming back and we’re ready to go.”
This week features three games for the team, starting with a home nonconference match against Pitt-Johnstown Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The Raiders then hit the road for the weekend, with away matches at West Chester at 7 p.m. Friday and at Millersville on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Piscotty mentioned that service needed to be improved for these matches. “We still had a lot of aces, but we still had an extraordinarily high amount of errors,” she said, “so we want that to be inverse, where it’s higher on the aces and lower on the errors.