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Clarkson sweeps past Westfield State in NCAA volleyball tournament opener

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POTSDAM - After trading points in the early going, the Clarkson University women’s volleyball team went on an 8-0 run to take a seven-point advantage in the first set and then never looked back in cruising to an opening round win over Westfield State, 25-12, 25-7, 25-5, at the NCAA Division III Potsdam Regional Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium.

The Golden Knights, ranked 22nd in the country, improved to 34-6 overall and will face New York University in the regional semifinals today at 6 p.m. Westfield State closed out its season at 19-15. NYU advanced by sweeping past Nazareth.

Today’s other semi-final match between Richard Stockton and SUNY New Paltz is set to begin at 3:30 p.m. Stockton swept past Rivier and New Paltz did likewise to Colby-Sawyer in the other opening round matches on Friday at Alumni Gym.

Following some early match jitters, the Golden Knights took little time in finding their groove offensive, hitting .461 overall. Clarkson did have 15 kills in the first set for a .387 clip (just three errors in 31 attempts) as Westfield State did not have any answers for the diverse attack put forth by Clarkson.

In the second and third sets combined, Clarkson hit over .500 and allowed the Owls to score only 12 points. Additionally, Clarkson’s serving game put Westfield State on edge, as the Knights posted 13 aces, including six by Victoria Kirkemo (Englewood, CO).

In Clarkson’s .461 overall hitting percentage, the Knights struck for 40 kills against just five errors in 76 attempts. Senior Xiao Liang (Tianjin, China) led the way with a .722 hitting percentage, going for 14 kills against just a single error in 18 swings. Kirkemo also added eight kills with one error in 24 swings, and was outdone by her classmate Aishvina Arasu (Brea, CA), who had the same numbers in just 14 attempts. Another sophomore, Lauren Hutchinson (Spring, TX) produced five kills with one erorr in eight attempts. Lani Durio (Austin, TX) averaged 11 assists per set and Erika Chin (Katy, TX) produced 14 digs overall. Kirstie Shurie (LaCanada, CA) also had three aces in Clarkson’s 13-ace attack.

For the Owls, Julia Warner swung for eight kills, more than half of Westfield State’s total of 15. Carolyn Cote produced 10 assists and Lindsay Rescott added in 10 digs.

NYU SWEEPS NAZARETH

New York University advanced to the second round with a 3-0 win against Nazareth.

NYU (28-7) started the match strong by grabbing a 5-0 lead and never trailed en route to a 25-15 first-set win.

The Violets again took a 5-0 lead in the second set, but this time they could not maintain it as the Golden Flyers (29-9) eventually took their first lead of the match. Nazareth was ahead 19-18, but the Violets scored six consecutive points and won the set 25-20.

In the final set, the Violets experienced their biggest deficit of the match, 16-12. However, after a timeout, NYU scored the next seven points. After Nazareth recaptured a 20-19 lead, the Violets scored the next four points and clinched the win when the Golden Flyers hit game point into the net. Final set: 25-21.

Allie Williams recorded a match-high 11 kills for NYU while two Violets had double-digit assists: Emily Moore (match-high 21) and Katie Robinson (15). Moore also had three service aces and nine digs. Sonya Bray had eight kills without an error and recorded a .615 attack percentage. Cassidy Jourdan (11) and Alexandria Mao (10) totaled double-digit digs.

STOCKTON SWEEPS RIVIER

Richard Stockton (31-5) advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 25-16, 25-23, 25-22 sweep of Rivier (27-9).

A pair of seniors led the Ospreys to their 26th consecutive win. Nicole Serekian tallied a match-high nine kills plus seven digs and five assists. Mayan Alvarado chipped in with 12 assists, eight digs and four aces.

Shannon Clark dished 18 assists and Emily Grube scooped a match-high 17 digs. Macy Schwartz contributed six kills and four blocks while Kasey Hennecke added six kills and five digs. Stockton won its NCAA first-round contest for the second consecutive year and earned their third NCAA tournament win in school history.

Stockton will play its NCAA second-round match at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Clarkson. The Ospreys will be trying to reach the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.

NEW PALTZ SWEEPS COLBY-SAWYER

For the second year in a row, SUNY New Paltz women’s volleyball team advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament by besting Colby-Sawyer College, 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-16).

New Paltz improved to 33-6 with the win while Colby-Sawyer, the automatic qualifier from the North Atlantic Conference (NAC), finishes its season at 22-11.

Eight Hawk blocks, though, six of which came from freshman middle hitter Morgan Roessler (Massapequa, N.Y.), ultimately helped propel New Paltz to the win.

Colby-Sawyer hurt its chances for a victory with 32 attacking errors, 13 of which came in the third set. Roessler was New Paltz’s star of the match, boasting nine kills, a .412 hitting percentage and six total blocks in her first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Marissa King dished out 23 assists, while senior libero Carrie Hack (Baldwinsville, N.Y./C.W. Baker) and Becca Borquist notched 14 and 13 digs, respectively.

Jackie Keating’s nine kills and 10 digs paced Colby-Sawyer, while Laura Smolinski’s four aces propelled the Chargers off the serve. Senior libero Ally Le-Bruno came up with a match-high 21 digs.

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