Volleyball hands IU Kokomo first conference loss in 3 years

Written By Dara Collins, Editor-in-Chief

The Pioneers reclaimed team chemistry and the top spot in the River States Conference (RSC) East division after their third-straight road weekend.

“This past weekend really showed us our potential as a team and showed how important each player is on this team in order for us to be successful,” senior Maria Ferragonio said. “Going 2-0 on the weekend was a very rewarding feeling, especially our win against Kokomo since they were the top team to beat.”

Point Park closed out its second-to-last RSC road weekend of the season on a high note after sending Indiana University (IU) Kokomo, the leading team in the RSC West, home with its first conference loss of the season.

In fact, it was IU Kokomo’s first RSC loss since October 2016.

“Beating Kokomo is for sure the highlight of our season thus far, especially for me,” defensive specialist Ashley Castelli said.

Castelli has been out with a concussion and played her first game back against IU Kokomo, tying for the team-high for digs at 18.

“We did a great job overall, we kept the energy high and communicated well,” Castelli said. “We focused on our side of the net and minimized our errors and did what we could do to stop them, and we succeeded.”

The Pioneers shut down the Cougars 3-1 last Friday. IU Kokomo came out strong in set one, but there was no question the Pioneers would turn the match around.

“It was a tough match but we all had so much fun so it’s setting the tone for the rest of the season because we know we are better than all of these teams,” Castelli said. “Now, we just have to show up and play like it.”

Setters Julia Menosky and Brittney Bianco spread the attack to six Pioneers with 24 and 19 assists, respectively.

Senior outside hitter Haley English led the Pioneer offense with 12 kills, sophomore Madison Sima followed with 10 and Ferragonio and junior Jazlyn Rozier put down eight each. Sima and Ferragonio also handled defense at the net with two blocks apiece.

English finished with a double-double and tied Castelli for the most digs. Ferragonio and Menosky also boasted double-digits on defense with 14 and 11 digs, respectively.

Following the four-set win against the previous top team in the RSC West, the Pioneers completed a five-set win against the bottom team in the same division.

Point Park outlasted Cincinnati Christian University in the final road match of the weekend by scores of 25-9, 10-25, 25-21, 16-25 and 15-7.

The Pioneers out-gunned the Eagles 58 to 43 with junior Kristy Lippert and freshman Taylor Small leading the attack with 13 kills each. Rozier (11) and Ferragonio (10) also climbed to double digits to help on offense.

The setters threw out 47 assists, collectively, and Castelli highlighted the back row with 24 digs on the match. Menosky was the only Pioneer to pull a double-double with the addition of 12 digs.

The Pioneers will embark on one last RSC road trip this weekend to play University of Rio Grande and West Virginia Tech. Point Park previously won in four sets against both teams in home contests from late September.

“We are all looking forward to being home because we won’t have to worry about playing well after sitting on a bus for six plus hours,” Castelli said. “We will also have the home court advantage, and I think we will thrive because of the atmosphere in the gym from all of the people who come to support us and bring the energy which definitely helps.”

As of Oct. 21, Point Park stands at 16-6 overall, 6-3 RSC and has eight matches left before the conference playoffs begin.

“Our hard work has paid off so far, but we aren’t done yet, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season,” Ferragonio said.