Volleyball secures senior day victory over conference foe

Photo by Vania Arthur
Senior outside hitter Shiloh Simonson and senior middle hitter Nikki Inquartano go up for a block against Cincinnati Christian Saturday.

Written By Dara Collins, Staff Writer

Point Park celebrated its four seniors, outside hitter Shiloh Simonson, setter Emily Meng, middle hitter Nikki Inquartano and setter Madison Weldon and their accomplishments during their time as Pioneers. Family and friends crowded the bleachers and cheered for the players as their final season begins to wind down.

“That’s one of the most gratifying parts of coaching — just watching [the seniors] mature not only on the court, but in life,” head coach Mike Bruno said. “Watching them grow and empower themselves as young ladies is probably one of the best parts of my job. This game translates into a lot of lessons to be learned in life. I’m confident that all of them are going to do really well out there.”

“After this being my second year with [the seniors] getting to know them a little bit more and really getting a chance to see them develop and things like that, it’s been a really awesome and rewarding feeling,” assistant coach Bridget Bielich said.

The seniors recalled their fondest moments with the Point Park volleyball program after the 3-0 victory.

“My favorite part about this team is that we can joke around with everybody,” Simonson said.

“I’m going to miss the hotel nights and just the fun off the court, as well as the fun we have on the court,” Meng said. “I’m just going to miss all the memories that come with volleyball.”

“I’m definitely going to miss all the inside jokes on the court and all the behind-the-scenes stuff people don’t see, like the hotel rooms on trips and bus rides and just spending time with the team,” Inquartano said, in agreement with Meng.

All emotions aside, Point Park focused on the main goal – winning the match. The Pioneers swept the Eagles 25-19, 27-25 and 25-20. Their record is now 13-13, and they remain the leaders of the Eastern Division of the River States Conference (RSC) at 9-1.

“We didn’t see it as the last game to play together,” Meng said. “We saw it as another opportunity to grow together.”

The seniors provided a plethora of points to the Pioneers’ score. Simonson held the game-high for kills at 10 and digs at 14. Meng recorded 34 assists, Inquartano added five kills and five blocks and Weldon contributed two aces.

“I was really excited for the seniors today,” middle hitter Kirsten Burkes said. “They had a good game. I will miss them for sure. They’re a good group of girls.”

An array of other players contributed to the victory as well. The Pioneers’ defense included libero Morgan Dangelo with 11 digs and Julia Menosky with seven. Attacks came from across the net with Burkes and Madeline Poirier each contributing seven kills alongside Ashley Taylor with nine.

“They hung in there in the second set,” Bruno said. “They overcame some adversity. It’s always nice to come out on top.”

“They’ve worked hard all week at practice so I thought they did a nice job of coming here and stepping onto the court ready to go and getting the win,” Bielich said.

In a post-game interview, Meng promoted positive energy, communication and staying healthy as the team progresses through the season.

The Pioneers have one home game left this year on Nov. 8 when they face off against West Virginia Wesleyan. They’ll take on Brescia (Ky.) and IU Southeast this week at a RSC tri-match at Carlow.