Clarion University’s volleyball team fought through an early lose this week, but finished with a winning record.
Though they fell to Gannon at home, the Golden Eagles rebounded by sweeping Mercyhurst at Tippin Gym. Clarion snatched the first set from its opponents by a score of 28-26. The second game, the ladies won 25-20 and capped off its afternoon with a 25-10 triumph. Taylor Braunagel led the way for the Eagles by collecting 12 kills and two aces. MacKenzie Biggs complimented those numbers with 10 kills and two blocks. Marissa Robertson added eight kills, two blocks and two assists.
Clarion’s final game, and victory, was against the rigorous Indiana University of Pennsylvania squad. Clarion took the first set, 25-22, but IUP responded by taking the next two games by scores of 25-13 and 25-17, respectfully. Clarion’s resiliency came through, as they took back-to-back sets to close out the game, 25-23 and 15-7. Braunagel paced the Eagles with 18 kills and two aces. Biggs recorded 15 kills and three blocks for the victors. Lauryn Driscoll chipped in nine kills and served up an ace for Clarion.
Victorious, Clarion jumps to an 11-8 record overall, and a 5-2 record in its conference. That success, Braunagel says, creates an irreplaceable feeling for the team. “It’s great! Always nice to grab some wins against conference teams. We’re starting to get to a place where we want to be with our consistency.”
One of those wins, IUP, came at the hands of a team that had an even record with the Eagles going into the game. Braunagel added, “We see IUP a lot because they’re our travel partner, and so to play against them and come out on top after a hard five set battle is a great boost for our chemistry. I think it will really narrow our focus to working together as a team instead of 19 individuals.”
With every win, Clarion inches closer to playoff contention, and even a spot in the PSAC Championship game.
“There’s always pressure to perform well. That’s what defines us as athletes. The way we utilize that pressure is what will determine how well we come out and play in the remaining matches. If we continue to work hard on what’s happening on our side of the net and play the best we can as a unit, we should have no problem with focusing.”
Clarion’s volleyball team goes back to work this weekend, traveling to Edinboro Friday at 7 p.m., and then Slippery Rock battles the Eagles on Saturday at 1 p.m. In order to keep this momentum moving, Braunagel says the team will need to “continue to focus on our game and chemistry, then we will be fine against any opponent in the PSAC. Our defense has been solid, so has our serve receive. Our offense needs to manage and get the ball in the court more often, and we will be successful.”