Potsdam, NY - Though the team recorded just six service aces in three sets, the Clarkson University Volleyball team kept Union College off-balance with its effort from the service line and cruised to a three-set sweep (25-13, 25-8, 25-12) to win the automatic bid from the Liberty League and will advance to the NCAA Tournament next weekend.
The Golden Knights, ranked 23rd in the country, improved to 33-6 overall as Clarkson head coach Johan Dulfer earned his 200th career victory. Union fell to 22-11.
Though the teams traded points in the very early going, Clarkson gained the lead at 4-3 in the first set and never trailed again for the remainder of the match. The Golden Knights strong effort on serves never allowed Union to get in a rhythm offensively, while the Clarkson hit .500 in the opening set (18 kills and 2 errors in 32 attempts). Leading by only four, however, (16-12), Clarkson scored nine of the final 10 points to close out the first set.
The second set was more of the same, as the Knights raced out to an 11-1 lead seven kills, including three from Aishvina Arasu (Brea, CA). Despite a pair of timeouts, Union was unable to get back into the match continued to roll offensively, once again hitting at a .500 clip (16-2-28).
Finally, the third set saw the Knights jump out to to a small lead in the early going, but a run on offense from Arasu and Victoria Kirkemo (Englewood, CO) saw the duo combine for five kills in an 8-1 run midway through the set that left that outcome in little doubt. Though Union attempted a minor rally late, a service error gave Clarkson its first automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in the conference's first season with such a selection.
"Well, apparently we saved our best for last," coach Dulfer remarked. "The effort, intensity, and purpose I saw today was maybe the best its been all season. I don't think that's a coincidence. This group really has learned to trust each other, and has the uncanny ability to bring out the best in each other. I'm incredibly proud of the game we put on the floor today and hope that it's just the start of a great post-season."
Arasu and Kirkemo each struck for 12 kills in the match, while tournament MVP Xiao Liang (Tianjin, China) was a force in the middle with nine kills against just one error in 19 swings. Sophomore Lauren Hutchinson (Spring, TX) also added eight kills and junior middle hitter Adrienne Walker (Centennial, CO) dominated in the middle and on slides with eight kills and no errors in 11 swings (.727 hitting percentage). Senior setter Lani Durio (Austin, TX) once again ran the outstanding offensive display with aplomb, producing 38 assists, nearly 13 per set. Defensively, Erika Chin (Katy, TX) and Kirstie Shurie (LaCanada, CA) nearly duplicated their numbers from the previous night precisely, recording 14 and eight digs, respectively.
For Union, the team hit just .014, producing 16 kills versus 15 errors in 72 swings. Amanda Price had 10 digs and seven assists, but no player for the Dutchwomen had more than three kills.
Xiao Liang (Clarkson University) - MVP
Erika Chin (Clarkson University)
Lani Durio (Clarkson University)
Marissa Vollmer (Union College)
Morgan Clark (Union College)
Jenna Street (St. Lawrence University)
Chloe Hallum (Vassar College)