MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – The Morrisville State Women's Volleyball team advanced to the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Championship by grinding out a four-set win against the Express from Wells College in the semi-final match.
Morrisville opened the match with an ace by Kim Dunkleman (Williamsville, N.Y.) and built an early 4-0 lead. Wells picked up their points, but it was the Mustangs who would pull away as they picked up a few more points with each held serve, including two key unassisted overpass kills by Kirsten Florio (Wellsboro, Pa.). Up 19-14, Morrisville forced Wells into a timeout. The momentum stayed in favor of the Mustangs as they picked up the 25-18 first set win.
Wells flipped the script on the Mustangs in the second set as Morrisville was forced to work their way back from and early deficit. Strong serving by Helena Hanes (Brockport, Pa.) paired with a back-to-back-to-back kills from K. Florio, Elycia Crittenden (Louisville, Ky.), and Megyan Merrill (Millport, N.Y.) put the Mustangs up 8-5.
However, the Mustangs lead would be short lived as the Express battled back to knot the second set up at 15-15. Despite the lost lead, Morrisville re-grouped and continued to push points. However, an unforced error by the Mustangs and a pair of kills by the Express knotted the set up once again, this time at 23-23. Neither team would yield to the other as they traded points, going past the 25 point mark in search of the two point set victory. Wells would ultimately find the answer picking up the 28-26 point victory for the second set win.
Tied at one set apiece, Wells took the gained momentum from the second set victory to jump out to a 4-0 lead. Morrisville gradually worked their way back into the set riding the hot hand of Merrill who put away seven of her 20 kills in the third.
Down 19-20, the Mustangs inserted Christina Grippin (Berne, N.Y.) into the rotation to serve. Grippin served Morrisville to a 21-20 lead and the Mustangs would not look back, taking the third set 25-23.
Morrisville pushed points in the fourth set, gradually gaining a four point advantage. Wells took a timeout at 14-10 and worked their way back to a 17-17 tie. However, the Mustangs refused to give way, building a 20-17 lead before another Wells timeout. Morrisville would ultimately close out the set behind a Crittenden kill and an Express attack error for the 25-21 fourth set win and the 3-1 match victory.
In addition to Merrill's 20 kill performance, Hanes also put away double-digit kills with 12. Lindsey Sunderlage (Kingston, Ill.) and Crittenden finished with seven kills each, while K. Florio and Amelia Baratier (Liverpool, N.Y.) each added six kills.
Dunkleman picked up 25 assists while Hanes added 24. Dunkleman also tallied four of the Mustangs' seven aces, while Merrill added two.
Defensively, Sam Wolf (Liverpool, N.Y.) picked up a match high 24 digs.
The victory puts the Mustangs into the NEAC Championship match for the first time in program history against seven-time defending champion, Gallaudet University at 11:30 AM on Sunday. Gallaudet defeated the number one seed and host institution, Penn State-Berks in the first of the two semi-final matches on Saturday. The Mustangs fell to the Bison in the semi-final match last year, but defeated Gallaudet on their home court in straight sets in September.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2018 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2018 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.