HUNTINGDON, Pa. – After a tightly-played first set, No. 2 seed Susquehanna volleyball put together two strong sets and eventually swept No. 3 seed Catholic in the Landmark Conference Semifinals and will now face No. 1 seed Juniata tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. in the title match.
The Crusaders (29-8) won 25-21, 25-17 and 25-16 to sweep Catholic (23-15) for the fourth time in the conference playoffs, with the previous wins occurring 2009 through 2011.
Morgan Whiteman (Camp Hill, Pa. / Trinity) led all players with 15 kills (.368 attack pct.) and chipped in five digs. Erin Byrne (San Diego, Calif. / Scripps Ranch), Hayley Dunkel (Pottsville, Pa. / Pottsville Area) and Kady Faller (Reading, Pa. / Exeter Township) all registered eight kills, with Byrne providing six digs and three service aces.
Freshman Maggie O'Hearn (Mountville, Pa. / Hempfield) contributed 39 assists while classmate Alyssa Chiodo (Lansdale, Pa. / North Penn) and Sarah Paluck (Nesquehoning, Pa. / Tamaqua Area) recorded 14 and 12 digs, respectively.
In the opening set, the Crusaders jumped out to a 7-1 lead forcing Catholic to call a timeout early on. However, Catholic rallied and went on an 11-5 spurt to coerce SU to take a timeout, still leading 12-11. SU would go on capture the first set by a mark of 25-21, led by Dunkel's five kills and Chiodo's set-high eight digs.
The second set was much closer to start with the score being tied at 9 before SU recorded three unanswered points to go ahead 12-9. After a Crusader timeout with the set tied at 16, Susquehanna responded with a strong showing and allowed only one Catholic point the remainder of the way, winning 25-17.
In the evening's final set, SU came out strong with a 14-6 advantage and continued to dominate, winning 25-16 to complete the sweep and advance to the title match tomorrow against six-time conference champion and nationally ranked No. 9 Juniata, who won earlier tonight over No. 4 seed Scranton 3-1 with the Royals winning their first set over the Eagles in program history.