Clarion U. Volleyball Faces Familiar Foe in Atlantic Region Semi-Finals Friday

Clarion University of PennsylvaniaWHEELING, W. Va. (EYT) – A familiar foe awaits the Clarion University women’s volleyball team in the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament’s Atlantic Region at 5 p.m. Friday, as the Golden Eagles will take on PSAC West rival California (Pa.) at Wheeling Jesuit.

This will be the fourth meeting this year between the Western Division rivals and the seventh time they have met in the past two seasons.

Cal (29-8), the PSAC Champion and third seed in the Atlantic Region, knocked Clarion (30-4), the PSAC West Champion and second seed in the Atlantic Region, out in the opening round of the PSAC Playoffs Nov. 11 at Tippin Gym with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 27-25).

“We’re very ready,” Clarion senior setter Laura Subject, who has been named the PSAC West Volleyball Athlete of the Year in each of the last two seasons, said. “We’re a little salty that they knocked us out
at our place (in the PSAC playoffs). So, I think its going to be a good match. We’re ready.”

The Vulcans also beat Clarion 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-21) Sept. 27 at Tippin Gym, while the Golden Eagles returned the favor with a 3-2 (25-27, 14-25, 25-23, 31-29, 23-21) victory at California Oct. 24.

“It’s been an interesting matchup,” Clarion eight-year head coach Jennifer Mills said. “Basically, all three times we’ve played them the only one we’ve been able to take from them was the five-setter where we came out and went down 0-2 at their place. They’re tough and athletic. They’re one of the best blocking teams probably in the country. I think we know a little bit more about what to expect.”

Cal has limited opponents to a .104 hitting percentage on the year and is led by two of the PSAC’s top six blockers in Miranda Fouzie (1.19 blocks per set) and Danielle Hays (0.98 blocks per set). Also, defensively, Samantha Rudy averages 4.61 digs per set.

On offense, the Vulcans are paced by Laurel Miller’s 3.50 kills per set, while Hayes hits .294 with 286 kills and Fouzie hit .259 with 229 kills.

Subject, who also garnered Daktronics Atlantic Region Player of the Year honors this week, is Clarion’s leader averaging a PSAC-best 11.36 kills per set.

Morgan Seybold, a first-team Daktronics All-Region selection, is the Golden Eagles leader on defense and ranks first in the PSAC and Region in digs per set with 6.37, which is the fourth-best mark in the nation.

Offensively, freshmen Taylor Braunagel (3.10 kills per set) and Gabrielle Olson (.320 hitting percentage with 263 kills) are joined by junior Abbey Cox (.289 hitting percentage with 233 kills), sophomore Mackenzie Biggs (.277 hitting percentage with 285 kills) and senior Carlie Bieranowski (2.44 kills per set and 2.85 digs per set).

NOTES – The winner of the Clarion/California match will move into Saturday’s Regional Championship Game with a trip to the Elite Eight in Louisville, Ky., on the line. That match is set for 7 p.m. at Wheeling Jesuit … Clarion is in the Regional Semifinals for the third straight year and for the fifth time in school history. The Golden Eagles lone Regional Semifinal victory came in 2010 when they beat Wheeling Jesuit on their way to the school’s first trip to the Elite Eight … Last year, Clarion lost 3-0 to Cal in the Regional semifinals. Two years ago, the Golden Eagles fell 3-2 to Wheeling Jesuit in the semifinals.

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