Last year, this year: Episode 2 – Croup’s Corner

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

Last week, we previewed the men’s and women’s soccer teams. This week, we continue to preview the fall sports season with a look at the volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country teams.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in their first meets of the season over the weekend at the Duquesne Duals held at Schenley Park.

The women’s cross country team finished second in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) last year behind Asbury (Ky.). The Pioneers were chosen to finish second of 11 schools again in this year’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll. They were one point behind Asbury in the poll.

Point Park returns three National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national qualifying runners in sophomores Kelsey Wilkins and Katie Guarnaccia and junior Ashley Czerniewski-Hagan.

Guarnaccia and Wilkins broke the Point Park women’s 5K record last year at the KIAC Championship Meet posting a time of 19:24. At the Duquesne Duals, Guarnaccia led the Pioneers with a fifth-place finish and broke her own record with a time of 18:49. Wilkins was the second Pioneer to cross the finish line with a time of 20:29.

The men’s cross country team finished fifth last season in the KIAC and was picked to finish fourth in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

The men’s team is young and will look to its freshmen to lead the team this year. Five of its top seven finishers at the Duquesne Duals were freshmen, including Brian More who led the way with an 8K time of 27:05, good for 17th place out of 95 runners. 14 runners ahead of him came from National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I schools.

First-year head coach Kelly Parsley takes over for Jim Irvin after 11 seasons coaching Point Park Cross Country.

The volleyball team went 2-2 over the weekend at the Battle of the Boulevard tournament in the Student Center Gym. It was there last year where the Pioneers hosted and won the KIAC Tournament after finishing second in the regular season standings.

Point Park returns four starters from last year’s team and was picked as the conference favorite in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

Shiloh Simonson, a junior outside hitter, is coming off a strong sophomore season that earned her All-KIAC First Team honors. Emily Meng is back for her second year as the team’s setter after leading Point Park’s offense and earning all-conference second-team honors.

The Pioneers also return senior outside hitter Isabella Vavrek, middle hitter Christiane Chaves, senior defensive specialist Paige Baker and junior middle hitter Nikki Inquartano.

Not returning is All-KIAC libero Tabea Dalliard, who returned to home to Switzerland to pursue other volleyball opportunities.

Mike Bruno enters his 11th year as the Pioneer’s head coach and has been named a conference Coach of the Year in five of his last 16 years as a head coach.

The volleyball team is the only Point Park sport to play home games on campus. The Pioneers return home Wednesday, Sept. 16 when they host cross-town rival Carlow University. The match tips off at 7 p.m. on the fifth floor of the Student Center.