Women’s volleyball fails to snap quarterfinals curse

Written By Dara Collins, Co-Sports Editor

The women’s volleyball team’s recent winning streak snapped in the first round of the River States Conference (RSC) Volleyball Championship last Friday, bringing the season to a close.

Although the team ended its season prematurely, some of the women did not walk away empty-handed. Six Pioneers added conference accolades to their resumes during the award ceremony on Friday.

Senior right-side hitter Ashley Taylor and senior outside hitter Jordan Dixon earned All-RSC First Team honors. This is Taylor’s second year in a row receiving First-Team recognition.

“We helped one another develop over this season, so it was amazing to win this award with [Jordan],” Taylor said.

Senior libero Morgan Dangelo, senior middle hitter Destiny Tucker and junior setter Julia Menosky were named to the All-RSC Second Team. Dangelo earned a spot on the Second Team last year as well and was also named a Champion of Character. Menosky claimed a spot on the all-conference First Team last season.

Point Park named sophomore outside hitter Camryn LaMonaca its Champion of Character for the 2018 season.

“It was really a surprise that they were able to pick just one of us,” LaMonaca said. “We’re all really close friends, and we all support each other no matter what.”

The award ceremony took place after a disheartening loss that ended the Pioneers’ season and the seniors’ collegiate careers.

Point Park, the No. 2 seed in RSC East, opened championship play on Friday against Indiana University (IU) Southeast, RSC West’s No. 3 seed.

The teams faced one another earlier this season in late October where the Grenadiers topped the Pioneers 3-2. Point Park was on their way to a sweep when IU Southeast battled through extra points in the third set and stole every set from there on out.

“All I thought was, ‘I’m not ready for this to be my final game of my career, so I need to crush it,’” Taylor said.

This time, the Pioneers jumped on the scoreboard first, but the Grenadiers finished set one strong, winning 25-20. The Pioneers did not give up without a fight as set two proved neck and neck with the lead never surpassing three points. Point Park claimed the final points to win by a mere margin of two, 25-23.

That same mere margin knocked the Pioneers down after set three when IU Southeast claimed victory 25-23. Point Park trailed by six in the middle of the set before coming within reach of IU Southeast.

IU Southeast controlled set four from start to finish winning 25-19, sending the Pioneers packing after a 1-3 loss. Point Park finished its season 19-12, 12-4 RSC.

The errors of the match loomed across the stat sheet with 12 ball handling errors and 24 attack errors, all coming from Point Park’s primary hitters.

“We could have put more confidence in one another,” Taylor said. “I think the thing that killed us was our unforced errors. If we would have eliminated the errors on our side, we would have won for sure.”

Nonetheless, the green and gold did put down a number of kills with Dixon and Tucker leading with 11 apiece. Menosky recorded 23 assists, and junior setter Brittney Bianco had 15.

“I know I watched a couple balls which is never good, but I also could have switched my decision making and switched running my offense at times of who I was setting,” Menosky said.

Junior outside hitter Haley English played a big defensive game with the team-high 26 digs. Dangelo collected 20 digs, and Dixon and Menosky earned double-doubles with 16 and 12 digs, respectively.

The Pioneers have now lost in the conference quarterfinals three years in a row. However, Point Park did advance to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championship during the 2016 season because it was the top team in the RSC that year.

The championship hosted by Indiana University (IU) Kokomo continued last Saturday with the remaining four teams, all belonging to the RSC West Division. IU Southeast went on to play first-place IU Kokomo in the semifinals and lost in five sets. The Cougars then claimed RSC Championship gold in the final round.

“I am so sad the season is ending, but I’m more sad that I won’t ever be playing with the seniors again,” Menosky said. “I’m going to miss hanging out with them every day and all the memories I’ve made with them. They are my sisters, and it’s very bittersweet.”

The bittersweet feelings hits hardest with the seniors.

“I can’t believe its over,” Taylor said. “I’ve never felt a heartbreak worse than my volleyball career ending.”