California (Pa.) sweeps Gannon in NCAA first round behind balanced play
WHEELING, W.Va. -- Behind a balanced offensive and defensive performance, third-seeded California (Pa.) advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 3-0 victory (25-21, 25-21, 25-20) against sixth-seeded Gannon on Thursday at the Alma Grace McDonough Center.
Junior Laurel Miller led all players with 12 kills on 25 attempts for a .360 hitting percentage. Senior Molly Delaney added nine kills in the victory and four other players collected at least three kills. Fellow senior Abbey Freund and freshman Kristen Scurpa directed the offense with 16 and 10 assists, respectively, while Miller and Freund each collected two service aces.
Delaney finished with a team-best nine digs, while Miller and sophomore Samantha Rudy both tallied seven digs against the Lady Knights. Delaney also recorded a team-best four blocks for the third time in the last four matches and sophomore Miranda Fouzie collected three blocks.
The Vulcans won five of the final seven points in the opening set to earn the victory. Cal U opened play with a 5-1 run before Gannon posted an 8-4 rally to tie the score for the first time at 9. After the Lady Knights took their only lead of the match at 11-10, the Vulcans won four of the next five points to reclaim the lead at 14-12. The teams later traded 4-1 runs before Cal U eventually took a 20-18 lead. Following a point by the Lady Knights, the Vulcans closed the set with a 5-2 run.
Delaney and Miller each recorded four kills in the second set, as Cal U posted another 25-21 win. The Vulcans raced out to an 11-2 lead in the second set and never relinquished the lead. Gannon went on a 5-2 rally before Cal U won back-to-back points to take a 15-7 lead. The Lady Knights later registered a pair of 4-0 runs around three consecutive points by the Vulcans to trim the deficit to 18-16. The teams traded the next eight points before Cal U earned three of the last four points, as Miller collected kills on back-to-back points to end the set.
Cal U secured the sweep after winning the third set by a 25-20 count behind a .280 hitting percentage. The teams each opened the set with a pair of 5-2 runs before the Vulcans followed with another 5-2 rally to take a 12-9 lead. After back-to-back points by Gannon, Cal U mounted a 7-2 run to increase its lead to 19-13. The Lady Knights responded with four consecutive points before the Vulcans sealed the victory by winning six of the last seven points.
The Vulcans (29-8) have now advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament in each of the last eight years and hold a 25-12 all-time record in the tournament.
Gannon finishes the season with 20-14 mark after making its fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament.