POTSDAM, N.Y. -- An adjustment during the 10-minute break of the NCAA Division III Volleyball Potsdam Regional finals proved to be the difference for Clarkson, as the top-seeded Golden Knights made some intermission tweaks to take a four-set match from SUNY New Paltz 25-27, 27-25, 25-18, 25-15 at Alumni Gymnasium.
The Golden Knights improved to 36-6 overall with their school-record 19th consecutive victory, while SUNY New Paltz finished its season at 34-7. Clarkson advances to the NCAA quarterfinals next week in Holland, Mich.
Clarkson had a near double-digit advantage in the first set and looked ready to dispatch the Hawks in similar fashion to every other opponent in the New York Region this year, but the Hawks possessed a resiliency with a strong defensive effort that ended Clarkson's rally. New Paltz trailed by three points (24-21), but kills from Becca Borquist and Alex Bizub helped tie the match up at 24-24. Capitalizing on eight service errors in the first set, the Hawks came away with a 27-25 victory despite not holding a lead until the 26th point of the set.
The Knights again jumped out to an early lead, but New Paltz stymied the Clarkson offense with numerous digs in the back row, frustrating the Knights' hitters. It wasn't until Clarkson regained the lead on an ace from Victoria Kirkemo that the tide slowly shifted to the host's side. Even then, New Paltz once again wouldn't go away, trailing by three (24-21) but tying the game up. A kill from Xiao Liang and a hitting error allowed Clarkson to escape with a 1-1 knot after two sets before the intermission.
In the final two sets, Clarkson found a different level when it needed to. With the score tied at 11-11, Clarkson scored seven of the next 10 points with three kills coming from Liang, and the Knights were able to pick up five of the final six points to close out the third. In the fourth set, Clarkson's offense was hitting from all angles as every hitter produced in a 12-3 run that changed a two-point advantage into an 11-point lead (23-12) where the Knights could finally take a breath and finish off the match.
Lani Durio ran Clarkson's offense to the tune of 52 assists, and also picked her spots with three kills and four service aces. Erika Chin was equally impressive on defense, locating the right spots for 33 digs, including 31 in the first three sets. Offensively, Liang and Kirkemo led the way with 16 kills, while Adrienne Walker posted a .476 hitting percentage on 11 kills with just one error in 21 attempts. Aishvina Arasu also added in 10 kills and Kirstie Shurie produced 13 digs.
New Paltz's Becca Borquist contributed 17 kills and 14 digs while Katy Herbst added in 11 kills and 12 digs. Carrie Hack led the defensive effort for the Hawks with 24 digs and Marissa King had 39 assists.