The Slippery Rock University volleyball team played its final two games of the season at Morrow Field House this weekend with matchups against no. 20 Gannon University and Mercyhurst. The Rock battled hard on Friday night against a powerhouse in Gannon, but ultimately submitted with a 3-1 loss. SRU followed up strong on Senior Day, however, as the Green and White bested Mercyhurst in an emotional five-set comeback victory to close out a hard-fought season.
With two more games left in their 2018 campaign, The Rock welcomed in the nationally ranked Gannon Golden Knights. Right out of the gate, SRU found themselves in a fight with GU. In the first set, Slippery Rock and Gannon looked to be evenly matched, but it was The Rock who would emerge from the set victorious. The first set victory marked only the second time that Gannon dropped a set in their last seven contests.
After an upset in the opening set, Gannon would settle in and make it hard for Slippery Rock to pull away in any capacity, despite The Rock holding a lead in some point in each set on the night. Gannon would go on to show why they are one of the top teams in the nation, by winning each of the three last sets to take a 301 victory over The Rock.
Despite the loss, The Rock showed improvements in nearly every statistical category relative to their first matchup with Gannon earlier in the season which ended in a straight-set loss on the road.
Notable performances on the night came from Shayla Ray who paced The Rock’s attack with a team-high 10 kills and a .348 attack percentage to go with two blocks. The performance improved Ray’s impressive season hitting percentage to .314 which is among the best in the PSAC. Fellow senior Beth Stumpf and Kaley Fucci each recorded eight kills, to go along with 10 and 15 digs, respectively.
Sophomore Erinn Kahoe served up three aces on Friday night to add to her season total of 36. Junior Zoe Rivet orchestrated SRU’s offense, producing 33 assists while racking up 12 digs. Sophomore Jalyn Willard also posted 20 digs of her own, to keep pace with her PSAC Northwest Division best 5.03 digs per set.
The Rock had a chance to end its season on a high-note on Senior Day as they took on Mercyhurst. The Green and White defeated the Lakers earlier this season on the road in a four-set victory and Saturday’s matchup had a similar result.
Slippery Rock’s chances of closing out the season with a victory seemed desolate, as The Rock dropped the first two sets by scores of 25-16 and 25-17. What would follow will be remembered as one of the great moments in Slippery Rock volleyball history.
SRU played hard and never gave up, a trait that the women in Green and White held all year and executed a furious comeback which would result in a 3-2 victory for The Rock. Slippery Rock would take the last three sets in convincing fashion, winning each set by at least six points with scores of 25-18, 25-18, and 15-9.
The victory gave Slippery Rock a final record of 11-16 overall and 8-10 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) and would finish second in the PSAC Northwest standings. The Green and White’s senior class certainly shined in their final game, as Beth Stumpf registered a team-leading 13 kills to go along with 11 digs and one ace. Shayla Ray locked down the middle with eight kills with an extraordinary .438 attack percentage to go along with five blocks which increased her career total to 272, eighth most in Slippery Rock history. Kelsey Boyle rounded The Rock’s senior attack with three kills of her own and one block.
Freshman Gabby Huck finished strong in her freshman season, tallying 10 kills and to go with one block. Per usual, Erinn Kahoe played a big part in The Rock’s success with nine kills and four blocks.
Once again, Zoe Rivet led the Green and White with 44 assists, with 10 digs and three blocks. Rivet also served up three aces on the day. Collectively, The Rock bested the Lakers in attack percentage (.229-.183) and blocks (10-4).
Before Slippery Rock’s final match of the season began, Rock volleyball’s 2018 senior class of Boyle, Stumpf and Ray were honored for their contributions to the program over the course of their careers.
The future is bright for the young Slippery Rock squad, as they have certainly shown flashes of greatness throughout the season and will return 17 of their 20 players in 2019.