Volleyball closes out RSC play on winning wave

Pioneers seeded second in RSC East, prepare for IU Southeast rematch


Photo by Emilee Fails

Freshman Ashley Castelli attempts a serve in a match up earlier this year. The Pioneers celebrated senior day Saturday honoring six seniors. The team is currently ranked 2nd in the RSC standings.

Written By Dara Collins, Co-sports Editor

The volleyball teams of the River States Conference (RSC) wrapped up the regular season last Saturday, and RSC East No. 2 seed Point Park is riding a winning wave into the conference championship this weekend.

The Pioneers played three final conference matches last week for the sixth consecutive week. The team now has a week of practice ahead of the RSC Conference Championship hosted by Indiana University Kokomo on Nov. 9 and 10.

The Pioneers hosted Rio Grande University for the final game of the regular season last Saturday, and the seniors played their final home game of their careers. Libero Morgan Dangelo, outside hitters Jordan Dixon and Erica Gumz, defensive specialist Ali Peterson, middle hitter Destiny Tucker and right-side hitter Ashley Taylor were celebrated before the Senior Day contest.

“[I will miss] the game day feeling,” Tayor said. “I love the gym, I love how everyone comes and sees us and how volleyball has given me a life. It’s made me who I am today, and it’s going to set me up for my future.”

Senior Day ended in sweet victory for the green and gold with set scores of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-12. The Pioneers more than doubled the amount of kills from the RedStorm’s offense. Dixon totaled 12 kills, Tucker had eight and Taylor had six, one of which was the final kill of the match.

Dangelo led the defense with 14 digs, and Dixon’s stat sheet revealed a double-double with 10 digs to add to her kills. 

Point Park hosted Carlow University last Tuesday and handed the Celtics their second sweep, winning 25-17, 25-17 and 25-18. The Pioneers have now swept the Celtics both away and at home this season.

Nine Pioneers added kills to their stat sheet with sophomore middle hitter Jada Jones leading with seven kills, Tucker with six and freshman outside hitter Madison Sima with five. 

Junior setters Julia Menosky and Brittney Bianco split the assists with 13 and 16, respectively. The duo also combined for seven of Point Park’s nine aces. Junior outside hitter Haley English collected nine digs, and Dangelo and freshman defensive specialist Ashley Castelli tallied six each.

The Pioneers returned to the court on Friday night as they welcomed West Virginia University Tech to the Student Center Gym. Point Park faced WVU Tech earlier this season on the road and won 3-1. This time, Point Park trailed 2-1 after the Golden Bears stole the third set with extra points.

Point Park took set four 25-19 to force a fifth set, and ultimately sent the Golden Bears home with their second loss of the season to the Pioneers. The final set scores were 23-25, 25-22, 25-27, 25-19 and 15-6. 

“That game was a lot of ups and downs, but we got the hang of it,” sophomore middle hitter Jazlyn Rozier said. “We put so much passion, fight and heart into that game and into that fifth set. We played volleyball the way it should always be played. We wanted to win so bad, and we showed more heart for the game that we love than the other team.”

While the kill count appeared even in set one, the Pioneers took control from there on out. Dixon finished a double-double with 16 kills and 16 digs. English and Tucker put down 11 kills apiece, and Tucker also recorded five of the Pioneers’ nine aces. Dangelo paced the defense with the team-high 25 digs.

“I think was really helped us was our practice last week,” English said. “Whenever we practiced, we came in focused and prepared to get better at every aspect of the game, and I think that just transferred into the game.”

The Pioneers finished the regular season 19-11 overall, 12-4 RSC. The team hopes the wave doesn’t crash as they enter the conference championship this Friday and play Indiana University Southeast in the quarterfinals.

“We can’t think about the little things,” Taylor said. “We have to constantly keep pushing and pushing because no matter what, there’s always something we can work on.”

Point Park played the team earlier this season and lost in five sets.

“We need to be consistent and come out strong,” Rozier said. “If we get down a couple points, remain calm and know that we are better. Our biggest struggle with ourselves is we need to stay out of our heads and think and just play, and we will win.”