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Women’s volleyball upset in PSAC semis, qualifies for NCAAs

Excited WVB Group_SI
Edinboro women’s volleyball faces Clarion in the first round of the NCAA tournament (Contributed/EU Sports Information).

Story first appeared on edinboronow.com on Dec. 1, 2015 and in the Edinboro University Spectator on Dec. 3 , 2015.

The Edinboro women’s volleyball team looked like the top team in the western division in its PSAC quarterfinal sweep of the defending champion California (Pa.) Vulcans.

In the semi-finals, the upset was on against the Fighting Scots.

Shippensburg, the second seed in the east, fought back from down 2-0 in the match, to oust Boro, 3-2 in the semi-finals on Nov. 20 at the Sports Center at Pitt-Johnstown. The Red Raiders won 23-25, 19-25, 25-13, 25-23, 15-11.

Ship went on to win the PSAC Championship as the Red Raiders defeated the Golden Eagles of Clarion, 3-2, to capture the program’s first ever PSAC championship.

The semi-finals appearance was the first one for Boro since 2010.

The Fighting Scots cruised to an early 2-0 lead in the match, winning the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-19, respectively. After dropping the third set, 25-13, the ladies nearly won the match. Boro led 23-21 after a Challen Litwiler kill, but Clarion rallied for four straight points to win the set, 25-23.

Edinboro won the first point of the fifth and deciding set, but played catch up the rest of the way, eventually falling 15-11.

“The match vs. Shippensburg is a lesson to our team that the match isn’t over until the 25th point of the third set you have won,” Edinboro head coach Missy Soboleski said. “We jumped to a pretty nice lead 2-0 and instead of putting them away we lost focus and then it just spiraled out of our control. Losing another starter in the beginning of the fourth game did not help.”

Despite Boro being ousted in the PSAC playoffs, the ladies’ overall record of 31-6 and its’ resume was enough to be selected for the 2015 NCAA Division II Women’s Volleyball Tournament. The Fighting Scots are the fourth-seed and face #5 Clarion on Dec. 3 at Wheeling Jesuit, the top-seed in the Atlantic Region. The match is slated to begin at 5 p.m.

Soboleski and company have faced the Golden Eagles twice so far the season and got the best of them on both occasions. The Scots won 3-1 on Oct. 2 and by the same outcome on Oct. 31.

“The seeding for NCAA is what it is,” Soboleski said. “It could have gone a few different ways, but facing Clarion in the first round is a tough draw, but we are focusing on the positive things now. Our team has had a great year so far and we are now in what we call ‘Bonus Ball.’”

In the event Edinboro defeats Clarion, the ladies would get the winner of #1 Wheeling Jesuit and #8 Winston-Salem in the second round on Dec. 4.

“So many teams want to still be playing and we are one of the few who get the opportunity,” Soboleski concluded. “We want the girls to enjoy this, we focus on specific training areas in practice, but we want the girls to enjoy playing. It’s been a long season and they are tired so we need to keep volleyball enjoyable for them.”

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