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In their first home game of the season, the Crimson Hawks volleyball team fell in five sets to the Clarion University Golden Eagles at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.
The team’s record now sits at 4-14 overall and 1-6 in conference play.
IUP played 17 road matches to start the season, which is the latest the team has had to wait to start their home schedule since 2001.
The Golden Eagles have won the last 13 meetings between the two schools, and the last time IUP defeated Clarion was Sept. 16, 2006.
The teams exchanged points and sets, and at one point IUP led the game, but Clarion stormed back to take control and eventually arose victorious.
“I liked how steady we played throughout the match,” head coach Aline Scott said. “This is probably the best match we played so far in terms of consistency.
“I thought we kept it even the whole match.”
“We really competed with them; they are number one in our conference right now,” Ericka Lentz (junior, athletic training) said. “We just fought, that’s what we did.”
Scott said there were a number of things she liked about her team’s game.
“We played really well and Clarion is a good team,” Scott said. “I just thought we did a very good job and gave them a much better match than they expected.”
Clarion won the opening set 25-20. The Golden Eagles had 19 kills and four errors to come out on the winning side.
The Crimson Hawks won the next set 25-20.
It wasn’t an easy set, with IUP falling behind early and having to struggle back. The team earned 10 kills and seven errors during the set.
In the third set, the Crimson Hawks battled in a back and forth contest, earning a 25-21 victory again on 10 kills.
Clarion committed a game-high nine errors in the third set.
The Golden Eagles came back to win the next set 25-13 and the fifth set 15-9. They improved their record to 16-1 overall and 6-1 in conference play.
Lentz stood out as one of IUP’s standout players.
The Reading native earned 11 kills, which was second best on the team, as well as one ace and has been an effective player for Scott’s team throughout the season.
Lentz has had multiple knee surgeries and has gotten back on the floor this year.
“It’s my last season so I figure go all out,” Lentz said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Scott said it was good to have her back on the floor.
“It’s good for her to be back on the outside for us,” Scott said. “She’s a low-error player so you can count on her to make the plays when they matter. Her experience comes through.”
Elizabeth Sova (junior, math education) led the Crimson Hawks with 15 kills, which brings her season total to 175 kills.
Lindsay Moeller (freshman, elementary/special education) earned 41 assists.
Despite losing their home opener, Stephanie Kruzynski (sophomore, nursing) said the team played hard.
“We played really, really hard throughout the entire match,” Kruzynski said. “I think that we need to finish, but we did play really hard.”
In the loss, there was something to learn.
“We’re going to use this game and compete this way the entire rest of our matches,” Kruzynski said. “That is what we need to do.”
The Crimson Hawks are provided some respite for two days before going back on the road.
IUP will travel to Erie to face Gannon University and Mercyhurst University Oct. 11.
Mercyhurst is also one of the top teams in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
IUP will return to the KCAC Oct. 22 when they host Shepherd University in a non-conference matchup before hosting four straight Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference matchups.