Potsdam, NY - With 15 kills from Xiao Liang (Tianjin, China), the Clarkson University Volleyball team was able to set up a rematch of last year's New York Regional Final as the Golden Knights held on for a four-set victory (25-13, 25-14, 18-25, 25-18) over fourth-seeded New York University in the NCAA Division III Volleyball Potsdam Regional semifinals Saturday night at Alumni Gymnasium.
The Golden Knights improved to 35-6 overall, while the Violets finished off their season at 28-8. Clarkson will take on third-seeded SUNY New Paltz, a team that the Knights beat in five sets last year to claim the regional championship. The finals will take place at 2:30 pm at Alumni Gymnasium.
Clarkson came out strong in the first two sets and dominated all facets of the game, cruising to a pair of lopsided wins that didn't allow the Violets to get out of the mid-teens. In the third set, however, NYU made an improbably comeback. Clarkson was leading 10-1 before NYU turned on its defensive effort and would not allow the Golden Knights to score any more easy point. The Violets rallied back to within two points (15-13) before scoring 10 straight points, utilizing strong serves to keep the Knights off balance. NYU finished off the set 25-18, setting up the first extra-set match of the Potsdam Regional.
NYU came out with three of the first four points before Liang struck down a pair of thunderous kills that wobbled a pair of Violets players. The Violets held on, however, and kept the lead into the middle points of the set. Trailing by three (12-9), Clarkson reasserted itself on offense, thanks to a pair of kills from both Victoria Kirkemo (Englewood, CO) and Liang. Clarkson would not trail again for the remainder of the match as Lauren Hutchinson put down a kill late following an NYU timeout to give Clarkson a five-point advantage (21-16). From there, the Knights were able to close things out for a seven-point win.
Liang finished with 15 kills and just four errors in 28 swings, hitting .393 for the match. Lani Durio (Austin, TX) ran the offense with 45 assists and 11 digs and Erika Chin (Katy, TX) added a match-high 19 digs and four aces. Victoria Kirkemo produced 14 kills, 10 digs, and three aces, and Aishvina Arasu (Brea, CA) had 10 kills.
Gigi Morally came off the bench for NYU to record a team-high seven kills. Emily Moore led the team with 24 assists and 14 digs, and MaTia Hughes also added 14 digs.