Clarion U. Volleyball Wins on First Day of NCAA D-II Tournament 3-0 over Edinboro

clarion-u-volleyballWHEELING, W. Va. (EYT) – Behind a balanced offensive effort and a strong defensive showing, the Clarion University women’s volleyball team defeated Edinboro, 3-0 (25-16, 25-10, 25-22), in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region playoffs Thursday afternoon at Wheeling Jesuit.

“We’re really excited,” Clarion’s eighth-year head coach Jennifer Mills said. “We’ve worked really hard the last five days after losing the conference quarterfinals on some weaknesses that were exposed in that match. The players really showed, on the court, the things we worked toward. I’m happy with how discipline they were.”

Led by Gabrielle Olson’s .556 hitting percentage (11 kills, 1 error, 18 attempts), the Golden Eagles (30-4) hit a respectable .228 (37-14-101) for the match while holding Edinboro to a .018 hitting percentage (27-25-110).

Clarion had 52 digs in the match led by 19 from Morgan Seybold and 11 from Carlie Bieranowski,who added eight kills and three blocks.

The Golden Eagles also had 17 blocks with Abbey Cox leading the way with six while also adding three kills and a dig. Mackenzie Biggs chipped in with four blocks and six kills, while Olson and Laura Subject
each had two blocks as well.

“We knew what to expect with them,” Mills said. “Their setters didn’t dump on us as much as they did the last time. I think, once you pick that up a couple of times, they shy away from it. They realize the holes aren’t there. But, for the most part I really believe we were a lot more disciplined than when we played them in the regular season. We had a week off to work on some
of those specific things, and I think we kind of came out fired up, ready to go.”

Subject added 33 set assists, two service aces and three digs and helped lead a Clarion offense that saw four players have at least six kills.

“It’s just so fun,” Subject said. “The hitters make it so easy. I just have to put the ball up there, and they get the kill. It makes my job so easy. It’s a blast.”

Taylor Braunagel had nine of the kills for Clarion while hitting .240. Five of those kills came in the first set, a set that saw Clarion jump on Edinboro quickly going up 8-3 and cruising for the rest of the set for the victory.

“Starting off with a great attitude and higher intensity is always a good thing,” Braunagel said. “The intensity is really what drives how well we do, and we find the more intense we are and the higher all of our attitudes are, the better we play. We find it’s really important to keep a high attitude the whole time.”

Behind four kills from Biggs and three each from Braunagel and Bieranowski, Clarion jumped all over Edinboro in the second set grabbing an 11-3 lead before finishing out the set on a 14-7 run for the 25-10 win.

“I think we serve tough,” Mills said. “We’ve talked about that in our gym who we want to try to work to get teams out of system. I believe we did a nice job of doing that, and I thought Morgan (Seybold) had a great game. She was exactly where she needed to be.”

Edinboro didn’t go down without a fight jumping out to a 10-8 lead in the third set before Clarion answered with a 10-4 run that saw Olson and Bieranowski each get a pair of kills to turn the set around.

Latoya Hutchinson led Edinboro (21-13) with nine kills, while Tabitha Meeks added five. Sydney Trathen had 16 assists, while Katie Felix had 10. Marah Mayock paced the Fighting Scots defense with 15 digs, while Haley Marett had 14.

Second-seeded Clarion will face third-seeded California (Pa.), a 3-1 winner over Mercyhurst Thursday, in the Regional semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday at Wheeling Jesuit. Cal has beaten Clarion in two of the three meetings between the schools this year including a 3-0 win in last week’s PSAC Quarterfinals at Clarion.

NOTES – This is Clarion’s second consecutive 30-win season. Last year, the Golden Eagles tied the school record with 32 victories. It is the fourth 30-win season in school history and the third under Mills. Clarion also won 32 matches in 2010 and won 31 in 2002 under Tracey Fluharty … The Golden Eagles are in the NCAA Regional Semifinals (Round of 32) for the third straight year and for the fifth time in school history. Clarion is 1-3 in Regional Semifinal contests beating Wheeling Jesuit in 2010 on its way to the Elite Eight and falling to Edinboro in 2007, Wheeling Jesuit in 2012 and California (Pa.) in 2013 … Clarion beat Edinboro three times this year also taking a pair of 3-1 decisions in the regular season … Subject now has 4,042 career set assists, good for third in school history. She is 156 behind Amanda Gough for second. Gough was the setter on the Elite Eight team and was also the Golden Eagles starting setter Subject’s freshman season. Jackie Hill holds the school record with 5,846 set assists … Seybold now has 739 digs this season, the third most in a single season at Clarion. Seybold set the school record with 806 last year. Rhiannon Brady is second with 798 in 2010 … Seybold, a junior, has 1,675 career digs, the fourth most in school history.

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