Clarkson knocks off Nazareth
Golden Knights down Golden Flyers in NCAA tournament play
POTSDAM, N.Y. -- Freshmen Becca Brabec and Adrienne Walker each posted one of their best matches of the season when Clarkson needed them most, as the Golden Knights defeated Nazareth in four sets, 25-13, 20-25, 25-13, 25-22, in the opening round of the NCAA New York Regional on Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium.
A feeling-out period began the first set as the two teams were tied 7-7 in the early going, but a strong stretch of serving from Walker forced Nazareth into a timeout to catch its collective breath. The break helped a little, as the Golden Flyers got back into the match, but Clarkson scored 11 of the final 12 points of the match to take an easy victory, thanks to a .480 hitting percentage.
Too many attack errors swung the second set into Nazareth’s favor. Clarkson had 12 kills, but also had 12 errors, hitting the ball long and wide and also into the Golden Flyers’ block, where they earned three more denials up front. Despite the errors, Clarkson looked ready to close out the second set, but Nazareth scored the final eight points after trailing by three, to take it 25-20.
Nazareth’s run ended in the third set, as Clarkson jumped out to a 12-5 advantage after back-to-back aces from Adrienne Walker, pushing Golden Flyers' coach Cal Wickens to take a timeout. The break didn’t change the pace, as Walker came through with another ace immediately following the timeout, and Clarkson cruised to a 25-13 victory in set number three.
The fourth set saw Clarkson enjoy small advantages in the early going, but the Golden Flyers would not go away and kept pace with the Knights until near the end of the match. Clarkson led by four points at 22-18 late, but Nazareth crawled back to within striking distance in the waning points before the Golden Knights finally close them out 25-22.
"Obviously it feels great to advance in the NCAAs," Clarkson head coach Johan Dulfer said. "I thought we came out with a lot of energy tonight and we maintained it throughout the match. It was a real team effort. I thought the difference in the match was our serving and our aggressiveness in general. This is a very proud day for Clarkson volleyball."
Brabec finished with a match-high 15 kills and had only four errors in 31 swings to lead Clarkson, while Walker posted eight kills, but also had eight errors, in 23 swings. However, Walker was huge on the serving line and at the net, producing four aces and six total blocks, including four solo denials. Senior Sara Artus added in 11 kills and was just one dig shy of a double-double with nine. Sophomore setter Lani Durio ran the offense with 37 assists, and Erika Chin came through with 19 digs to go along with her four service aces.
Nazareth had a balanced offensive attack, which was led by Chelsea Beacher with nine kills and 10 digs. Amy Johnson added in eight kills, and also had five block assists. Overall, Nazareth had 16 blocks, all of them as assists, to keep the Clarkson offense honest up front. Aubrey Cooke came through with 27 assists and Brittany Crocetti led the team defensively with 13 digs.