Volleyball inches closer to national tournament bid

Written By Dara Collins, Staff Writer

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The Carlow University Celtic’s gym may very well be a good luck charm for Point Park.

Point Park traveled to the fellow city school to face off against the Celtics Oct. 18. The Pioneers went three for three in a series of conference matchups.

“The first set, we literally destroyed them,” Ashley Taylor said. “[The second set] was like a domino effect.  First it was like we were passing bad, then it came to we were hitting bad.”

This slump didn’t phase Point Park. The team regained control to win with extra points and continue with the sweep. The Pioneers triumphed over the Celtics 25-5, 26-24 and 25-18. Their 3-0 victory improved their record to 10-1, making them the first River States Conference (RSC) team to achieve ten victories.

Libero Morgan Dangelo picked up a team-high of 14 digs. Setter Emily Meng dished out 18 assists to a variety of hitters. Attacks came from Shiloh Simonson with eight, Nikki Inquartano and Ashley Taylor with four each, Meng with three and Kirsten Burkes and Madeline Poirier with two each. Seven aces contributed to the Pioneers’ victory.

The Pioneers returned to Carlow’s gym Oct. 22 to play Brescia and Indiana University Southeast, the RSC’s Western Division leader.

“We knew they were important conference games, so we came in focused and ready to work,” Julia Menosky said.

Point Park took on Brescia first. The Pioneers won 25-17, 25-15 and 25-23, their second sweep in a row.

“I think we played a complete match there,” head coach Mike Bruno said. “We were efficient, and we took care of the ball. It was a good group effort.”

Taylor led the team with nine kills followed by Burkes with seven and Simonson with six. Meng recorded 27 assists. Taylor and Simonson picked up 13 digs each while Dangelo and Menosky chipped in 12 a piece.

The 3-0 victory over the Bearcats set the pace for the following match against competitor IU Southeast. Many Point Park students traveled to Oakland to support their school in the important showdown.

“The crowd made the difference for the IU Southeast game,” Menosky said. “Having all our fans there made us work that much harder.”

The players were not the only individuals to feel the love and encouragement from fellow students.

“I want to thank all the student athletes who came out to support,” Bruno said. “They created an electric atmosphere.”

Point Park took the first set in extra points. Taylor crushed the set-winning kill to win 26-24. The Grenadiers battled back to take set two 25-22, tying the match up 1-1.

“I knew for a fact when we played Southeast that they were going to give us a run for our money,” Taylor said. “They are a great team, and us playing great teams makes us play even better.”

Taylor’s theory proved true as Point Park bounced back from the loss to take the third and fourth sets 25-20 and 25-19.

“It was a good, hard-fought match on both sides of the net,” Bruno said. “I’m proud of the kids for staying so focused. They played with a sense of purpose. They played with heart and desire.”

Inquartano racked up five solo blocks to lead the team. Meng shot out 38 assists to her big hitters. Taylor achieved double digits with 15 kills alongside Simonson with 13. Point Park totaled an incredible 95 digs, 25 of which came from Dangelo.

With an overall record of 16-13, Point Park holds the best record in the RSC at 12-1. If the Pioneers obtain two more conference victories, they will advance to the regular season championship and receive an automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament.

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