Rochester, NY – In a matchup of the two top-ranked teams in the New York Regional rankings, the Clarkson University Volleyball team came out decisively on top, beating Stevens Institute of Technology in three sets (26-24, 25-15, 25-13) after downing the University of Rochester (25-17, 25-10, 25-12) on the opening day of the New York Regional Challenge.
The Golden Knights, ranked 24th in the country, improved to 29-6 overall and will face New York University (fourth-ranked regionally) and Nazareth College (sixth-ranked regionally) on Saturday. Clarkson has now won 11 straight matches, and 34 straight sets, dating back to its trip to Michigan during the second weekend of October. Rochester fell to 8-23 on the season, while the Ducks dropped to 24-6.
"Both matches today required us to learn a new opponent from scratch since we hadn't seen them on video and knew little about them," head coach Johan Dulfer remarked. "I am more and more impressed with this team's ability to do that. They sometimes have more information to share in a timeout than Lauren and I do and that's exactly how it should be. Bench players and court players alike, there is a desire to be the best we can be."
Though the Knights produced strongly on offense in the first set against Rochester, it wasn't until the second and third sets that they truly found a rhythm, scoring 27 kills with only two errors on a combined 44 swings (.568 hitting percentage). Kirstie Shurie (LaCanada, CA) and Lani Durio (Austin, TX) split the setting duties and contributed 21 and 16 assists, respectively, to run an offense with 41 kills. Victoria Kirkemo (Englewood, CO) led the way in that statistic, finishing off 12 swings with only a single error in 22 attempts. Senior middle hitter Xiao Liang (Tianjin, China) was equally impressive with nine kills on 15 swings (.600 hitting percentage). Overall, at four hitters swung at a clip of .500 or better.
Defensively, the Knights posted 45 digs, led by Erika Chin (Katy, TX), who had 16 to go along with two aces and two assists. Kirkemo also had 11 digs while producing a pair of aces. Junior Adrienne Walker (Centennial, CO) had three block assists to lead the Knights on the net.
With little time to recover, Clarkson came out somewhat slow in the first set against a quality opponent, but were able to persevere and take the first game. From that point on, the Golden Knights controlled the play and tempo, especially on offense where they once again had 27 kills and only three errors combined in the final two sets.
The Golden Knights' middle hitters were dominant as Walker and Liang combined for 18 kills and just two errors in 30 swings (.533 combined hitting percentage) with Walker recording 10 kills and Liang producing eight. Liang tacked on five total blocks, with one solo effort and four assists. The outside hitters were nearly as deadly for Clarkson as Kirkemo led the team with 11 kills and Aishvina Arasu (Brea, CA) struck for nine kills with only one error in 21 attempts. Kirkemo also added four aces and Walker served three aces as well.
Senior setter Lani Durio returned to full-time setter in a 5-1 set up and had 34 assists to go along with a team-best 17 digs. Chin and Shurie each added in nine digs defensively.