Golden Eagles Survive Shippensburg, Advance to PSAC Championship Match
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. – The Golden Eagle volleyball team advanced to the PSAC Tournament championship match for the third straight year, defeating tournament host Shippensburg on their home floor in a 3-1 (25-16, 16-25, 25-22, 25-21) battle at Heiges Field House.
The teams traded first set routs but the final two sets were slugfests, with Clarion prevailing over the Raiders.
Clarion will face Gannon tomorrow night, with first serve slated for 7 p.m. It is the third straight year the Golden Eagles and the Golden Knights will meet in the conference championship match, with Clarion winning in 2021 and Gannon winning in 2022.
Newly-minted PSAC West Athlete of the Year Cassidy Snider was sharp through the entire match, recording a match-high 19 kills on 43 attempts with just one error. That lone error did not even come until well into the fourth set of the match as the junior pounded away at the Raider defense. Fellow outside hitter Julia Piccolino also cracked double-digits with 15 kills, and both Snider and Piccolino recorded double-digit digs for double-doubles.
Snider became the fifth different Golden Eagle player and the first since 2004 to break 500 total kills in a season, doing so early in the second set with her second kill of that game. Colleen Sherk was the last player to do it, recording 517 kills during the 2004 season.
Defensively, Abigail Selfridge recorded a team-high 20 digs, while London Fuller added 16 digs to go with her 39 assists and four kills.
The Golden Eagles exploded early in the first set, breaking a 5-5 tie with a 9-0 run to take firm control of the action in the opening frame. Finley Kearney got it started with a kill and Savannah Taosoga followed up with kills on consecutive points, including a tip on an over ball to force the Raiders’ first timeout at 9-5. Abigail Selfridge closed the run with two aces in the span of three points, finishing the rally by dropping one on the back line to make it 14-5.
Charlie Allison picked up a solo block on Kaitlyn Townsend to make it 16-7, and Snider crushed ball three points later to extend the lead to double-digits at 18-8. Selfridge dealt another ace to force set point, but it would be a short while before Piccolino finished off the set with a kill at 25-16.
Shippensburg came out firing in the second set, with the Raiders breaking a 5-5 tie with a 10-3 run of their own. The Golden Eagles called their second timeout of the set after Kat Negron’s kill made it 15-8. Snider started to pull Clarion out of that rut with kills on back-to-back points, making it 16-11, but the Raiders regained control and upped their lead to 20-12 on a block by Davis and Hailey Cappleman. Shippensburg rode the wave of momentum through the end of the second frame, tying the match at 1-1 after Cappleman’s kill made it 25-16.
In the third set, the Golden Eagles shot out to a modest early lead, with Snider logging a kill to up the lead to 8-5. Shippensburg recovered and eventually took a 9-8 lead, with Negron and Cappleman combining to block Taosoga for the point. London Fuller and Charlie Allison helped the Golden Eagles go back ahead, blocking Negron to briefly make it a 12-10 lead, but the Raiders scored three straight to regain the advantage. Clarion rallied and eventually tied the score at 20 on a kill by Julia Piccolino, and Selfridge put her team ahead with an ace on the next point. Piccolino made it 23-21 with another kill, and Snider polished off the comeback win with a kill to make it 25-22.
The Raiders took a 9-6 lead early in the fourth set after a kill by Cappleman, but three straight Clarion points – including a solo block by Savannah Taosoga and a kill by Piccolino – tied things up. Fuller scored on a setter dump to put the Golden Eagles ahead 12-11, and Snider bounced kills on consecutive points to increase the Clarion advantage to 14-12. The Golden Eagles started to gain more traction, taking a 17-13 lead and forcing a Raider timeout on a solo block by Olivia Ishmael. Ishmael and Piccolino combined for a block at the pin to make it 19-15, and Snider served up an ace on the next point to make it a five-point advantage.
Shippensburg rallied back, scoring four straight points to cut the lead to 22-21, but Fuller stopped the bleeding by throwing down an over ball to put her team ahead by two points. Piccolino followed up with an ace, and Snider smashed a kill on match point to clinch the match.
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