Freshman Sydney Portale had 24 kills including eight in the fifth set as the Susquehanna University Volleyball team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win a 3-2 match over McDaniel College Wednesday night in a non-conference match in O.W. Houts Gymnasium in Selinsgrove.
Susquehanna (16-8), ranked No. 7 in the NCAA Regional rankings released earlier Wednesday, won its 11th consecutive match but had to rally after falling in the first two sets. McDaniel (15-6) won the opening set 25-18 and took a 2-0 lead with a 25-17 win in the second set.
The teams took an extended break before starting the third set and the rest seemed to help the River Hawks. Susquehanna took an early 5-1 lead in the third set led 16-14 late in the set before Morgan Lowe and Hannah Lyons scored two kills each down the stretch as the River Hawks scored nine of the last 12 points to take a 25-17 win.
"I challenged them to step up and play the way we knew we could," said Head Coach Kuuipo Tom. "We made a couple small adjustments but just needed some positive energy to get things going. The quick start helped and a huge defensive play by Kasey (Bost) gave us the spark we needed."
The fourth set also started in Susquehanna's favor as the River Hawks scored the first four points of the set. Portale recorded a kill and teamed with Lyons for two key blocks in the early run.
The River Hawks held a slim 17-16 lead late in the set but a pair of points including a kill by Portale forced McDaniel to call a time out. Portale added another kill after the time out to spark a 3-1 run and McDaniel used its second time out with Susquehanna leading 22-17. Lyons and Lowe recorded kills down the stretch for a 25-19 win to force the tiebreaker fifth set.
Lowe opened the fifth set with three consecutive kills as Susquehanna jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
McDaniel battled back with three straight points before the River Hawks scored five of the next six points for a 9-4 lead. After a McDaniel time out, Susquehanna rattled off four of the next five points with three coming on Portale kills for a 13-5 lead and the River Hawks cruised to the 15-8 win in the set to clinch the match.
Portale led the team with her career-high 24 kills while Lowe added 19 kills and 22 digs and Lyons chipped in 16 kills and had a team-leading four blocks. Senior Julie Kreutzer handed out 50 assists and Caroline Beohm led the defense with 37 digs. Lizzie Herestofa (13), Kreutzer (12) and Bost (11) combined for 36 digs.
The River Hawks will play Friday and Saturday at the Wid Guisler Invitational with matches against Franklin & Marshall Friday and Johnson & Wales and Wesleyan (Conn.) Saturday.