POTSDAM, NY – Trailing by two points in the fifth set against fourth-seeded New Paltz, third-seeded Clarkson scored four consecutive points, including two kills from Adrienne Walker, to claim the last game and advance to the NCAA Division III Volleyball National Championships Sunday at Alumni Gymnasium.
The Golden Knights improved to 31-6 overall and will move on to national quarterfinals to be held at Hope College in Holland, Mich, where they will face Minnesota-St. Thomas next weekend. New Paltz had its season end with a record of 34-9.
Clarkson is the first volleyball team from the Liberty League to win a regional championship match.
In the first set, Clarkson and New Paltz traded points early on and it appeared as if the Knights had the set in hand after a kill from Aishvina Arasu made the score 24-22. However, the Hawks tied the score with a pair of kills from Michelle Jacobson. A pair of errors from the Hawks gave Clarkson the edge in extra points (26-24).
The Knights were up by four (24-20) in the second set with just one point remaining to cinch a second-set victory, but New Paltz capitalized on four consecutive errors by Clarkson to again set up extra points. The teams teetered back and forth until the Hawks were finally able to gain three consecutive points. Eleanor Skovgaard struck for a kill to tie the score at 30 and New Paltz rode a pair of hitting errors into a 32-30 victory.
Set number three was less in question as New Paltz had a handle on things midway through the match. Up by just one point (14-13) New Paltz won five of the next six points for an advantage and continued on to take a five-point victory. New Paltz looked to finish off Clarkson in four sets, but a string of Golden Knights points ensured they would win the fourth. Up 4-2, Clarkson stared its run with an error by New Paltz and ran off 14 more points with Kirstie Shurie serving. With two kills and four aces from Shurie in the run, Clarkson ran to a 19-2 advantage and cruised to a 25-10 win.
The final set started with the Hawks pushing out to a three-point advantage early and holding a two-point lead at the bench switch (8-6). Though New Paltz would continue to hold an edge, the Golden Knights rallied to take the final four points. The Hawks were up 13-11, but Adrienne Walker produced a kill and Aishvina Arasu tied things up with another kill to force a New Paltz timeout. Victoria Kirkemo aced the Hawks and Adrienne Walker tapped down a kill for the clincher.
Adrienne Walker was named the Most Outstanding Player of the New York Regional, with 18 kills and just four errors in 37 swings. Kirkemo led the team with 20 kills and 15 digs, while Arasu had 19 kills and 14 digs. Setter Lani Durio came within one assist of her career-high with 57 sets and also added in 22 digs. Erika Chin had a match-high 28 digs and Shurie had 15 digs and six aces.