Women's volleyball season ends with a bang

The Millersville women’s volleyball season came to a close on Saturday as they went out with a bang by defeating second place Kutztown University in three straight sets.  The Marauders were fueled by seniors Meredith Sinback and Emily Bires, whose stellar careers as members of the volleyball team came to a close on the afternoon as well.

During the final week of the season the Marauders won two of three matches and boosted their season, record to 15-26, and 6-13 in conference play, which was good enough for fifth place in the PSAC East division.  Millersville came up just short and finished one spot away from making the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 season.

“Statistically we finished the same as last season,” Sinback said,  “We finished one game out then and I believe it was the same this year.  This year, though, we had a lot more talent and desire.”

The Marauders final road match of the season came on last Wednesday in a non-conference showdown against Goldey-Beacom University.  The Lightning were no match for a balanced Marauders team that had at least 10 different players record digs and kills.  Millersville won in three straight sets by scores of 25-13, 25-18, and 25-22.  Sinback led the team with 21 assists and sophomore Kellie Conahan led the team with a total of 12 digs in a strong defensive effort.

Following their disposal of Goldey-Beacom, the Marauders held their alumni night in a home match against West Chester on Friday.  Millersville was out looking to avenge a 3-1 loss earlier in the season against the Golden Rams, as well as pushing to keep their playoff hopes alive with a big victory.

In the end, Millersville came up short.  The Golden Rams took the win and clinched the final playoff spot in a hard fought battle that lasted over two hours and took five sets.  West Chester would win by scores of 25-17, 20-25, 24-26, 25-16, and 15-12.  After dropping the first set, the Marauders would storm back in and take the next two with a strong defensive effort which helped them capitalize on offense.  However, Millersville was unable to maintain their momentum, and the Golden Rams fought back and committed only two errors in the fourth set to tie the match at 2-2, heading into the final set. Millersville would open early with a three-point lead but could not hang on for the win as West Chester came back in the final set, to hand the Marauders a heart breaking loss.  The team was led by Sinback and her match-high 47 assists, but in the end it was not enough.

“It just goes to show how tough the competition is.  We have a great program and it’s not necessarily reflected in the wins and loss column,” Sinback said, “In high school I was part of a team where I was used to blowing other teams out of the water, this year, like last year, came down the wire with a number of teams.”

With nothing to lose, the Marauders hosted Kutztown the following afternoon, and won all three sets by scores of 25-17, 25-18, and 25-22.  Bires led the team with a season-high 18 kills and Sinback had another terrific all-around afternoon with 35 assists, seven kills, and six digs.

Each senior found their way in to the Millersville record books during their four-year careers in multiple categories. Sinback ranks third all-time with over 2,800 assists and holds the school career record for service aces.  She also ranks fourth all-time in digs.  Volleyball will still be a large part of her life as she will go on and coach a club team starting in the spring.

The Lava Volleyball Club, which is mostly run through the Lancaster Mennonite High School, will have the opportunity to learn from Sinback as she teaches them everything she learned at Millersville.  “Each year here, I had a different role, whether it was setting or hitting or whatever.  But I definitely learned a whole lot more than I expected,” she stated.

Bires is in the top 10 all-time with over 1,000 kills in her career and also is listed as second all-time in attack attempts.  Each player’s talents and leadership will be greatly missed.

Although their absence will be a big blow to the team for next year, there is still much hope for reaching the playoffs as 12 players will return for next season.  “They’re going to come in and be very experienced next season,” she explained, “They have a lot of PSAC wins already under their belt and they know what will be expected of them.  I think they will be poised for a good run next year.”