Golden Eagles Win PSAC Volleyball Championship

DSC_0104EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. – The Golden Eagle volleyball team claimed the third Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championship in program history on Saturday afternoon, defeating top-seeded Gannon 3-0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-17) at East Stroudsburg’s Koehler Fieldhouse. It is the Golden Eagles’ first conference championship since 2010.

The win capped a remarkable tournament run for the Golden Eagles, who defeated higher seeds in all three matches en route to the championship – the West #2 seed Edinboro in the quarterfinals, the East’s top seed East Stroudsburg in the semifinals, and finally the West’s #1 Gannon in the final. Clarion dropped just one set in their three matches in the championship.

Setter London Fuller was named Tournament MVP after a dazzling performance. The junior recorded 31 assists, nine digs and three kills in the championship match, including the winner on match point.

Julia Piccolino and Cassidy Snider each finished with a match-high 11 kills. Defensively, libero Abigail Selfridge was on a mission in the back row, totaling 27 digs in just three sets.

The Golden Eagles opened the first set on a 7-3 run that included a pair of kills by Piccolino and an ace by Selfridge. Clarion continued to keep up the pressure, in large part because of their front line defense’s ability to affect Golden Knight attacks at the net and allow the back row to work. The middles started to get involved over the course set of set as well, with Aichinger chipping in three kills and hitting at .429. One of those kills late in the set allowed Clarion to double-up on the Golden Knights, giving them a 22-11 advantage. Fuller forced set point with a tip kill at 24-14 and followed it up with an ace on the ensuing point, giving Clarion the 25-14 set win.

Gannon adjusted in the second set, opening up on a 10-3 lead that featured excellent back row defense and good angling to avoid the Golden Eagle block. Clarion started to claw back by scoring nine of the next 10 points. Snider cut the lead to 11-9 with kills on back-to-back points, and a block from Fuller and Alyson Peters forced a Golden Knight timeout at 11-10. Fuller came out of the timeout with a tip kill to knot it up, and a Gannon error on the next point put Clarion ahead for the first time in the set.

Now firmly in the driver’s seat, the Golden Eagles continued to press their advantage. They slowly stretched that advantage out, and got to set point after an attack error by Lauren Sampson. Peters was there for the set winner on the next point, bouncing one dead-red for the 25-19 win.

The Golden Eagles opened up to an 11-6 advantage early in the third set, but Gannon bounced back for two straight points to pull within three. Lauren Aichinger notched a kill to regain the momentum, and Cambron Hampton aced Katie Becht to make it 13-8 and force the Golden Knights into a timeout. Gannon again rallied, this time cutting it to 16-13 after a kill by Ashley Kerestes, and Clarion called a timeout themselves to right the ship. Right it they did, as Piccolino ripped a kill to the back-middle to bump the lead back to four points. She followed with another blast to make it 20-17, and the duo of Fuller and Aichinger blocked Kerestes to make it 21-17.

Piccolino notched an ace to make it 23-17, and then the duo of Fuller and Aichinger forced match point with a block on the left side. Fuller tipped the ball over the net on the final point of the match, giving Clarion the win and sending the bench into a frenzy.

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