Assoc. Sports Editor
In the final hoorah of September, Millersville’s volleyball squad was left speechless.
Saturday’s doubleheader for the Lady Marauders (4-7, 1-3 PSAC) started off with quite the bang in their first set, trumping California (Pa.) 39-37. The Lady Marauders, though, were shot down in the next six grueling sets – 3 by California (9-3, 3-0 PSAC), 25-13, 25-22, 25-18, then 3 more by Clarion (14-0, 4-0 PSAC), 25-14, 25-22, 25-13.
In the first matchup, Millersville seemed to be dead in the water, down 10-4 to the Vulcans. But, with the help of their kill-leader, Katie Lesinski, the Marauders surged back to an even game at 14-14.
It stayed that tight for the remainder of the set, for neither team trailed by more than two points.
Trading point-after-point, the 76-point set, which is an NCAA Division II record for most points scored in the current format, finally ended with the scoreboard displaying 39-37.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there for the exhausted Marauders.
Millersville’s .212 hitting percentage dove down to -.029. .125, then .044 in the finishing sets, where they clearly outmatched by California. Despite the low numbers, the Marauders attempted a late comeback in the final set, tying it 16-16, but the Vulcans fervently swatted the persistent Black and Gold away with a 9-2 closing run.
Lesinski and senior Rebecca Roman led the pack with 15 kills each, far beyond the next Marauder, Kayla Wallace, who smacked 6 past the net. Jessica Franz, who leads Millersville with 241 assists, added 25 more to her resume.
On the defensive, the team’s leader in digs by more than double of any other player’s total tacked on 33 more to her stat sheet. Philadelphia native Mary Paul dominated above the net with 9 blocks.
Clarion’s 4-0 run to kick off the second game only exacerbated Millersville’s previous defeat, and continued the trend of coming up short in the recent sets. The undefeated Eagles didn’t let up at all as the set continued, either, coming out victorious 25-14.
In the second set, the Marauders were ready to plunder Clarion’s momentum and conjure an upset before the game got out of hand – or, say, talon.
Millersville, indeed, did successfully break away from the Eagles’ grip with a 3-1 start to the second set. A 7-2 run by Clarion saw their attempt at an upset fade away, but their one-eyed vision cleared up and saw the score at 16-13, thanks to a few kills by Lesinski and sophomore Kayla Wallace. After 13 ties and 9 lead changes, Clarion retained their control of Millersville with 3-straight points, kissing the 22-22 tie and second set goodbye.
Clarion hit a monstrous percentage of .469 in the set.
Continuing their solid play in the third set, Clarion achieved another impressive hitting percentage of .361, which proved too much of a hurdle for Millersville to jump over. They fell 25-13 in the final set.
The 5’11” Paul was a bright spot for the Ladies in Black with her 8 kills and 2 blocks. Franz, again, helped her way to 17 assists, and Smith got her exercise in with 17 more digs to her team-leading number.
After falling prey to the Vulcans and Eagles on Saturday, Millersville has officially lost seven of their last nine after winning their two openers. To revive their winning spirit, Millersville will be at their home court in Pucillo Gymnasium on Friday to face the Wolves of Cheyney.