Saratoga Springs, NY – Though the Clarkson University Volleyball team was able to hold off Vassar yesterday, beating a good team three times in a single season is no easy task. Skidmore College found that out on Saturday, as the Golden Knights ended the Thoroughbreds unbeaten run through conference opponents with a four-set victory (25-27, 25-19, 25-23, 25-19) to claim the 2012 Liberty League Championship, its second in four seasons.
The Golden Knights improved to 28-6 overall and will now await the decision of the NCAA Tournament committee for an at-large bid. Skidmore, 26-7 overall, lost for the first time in 14 matches against in conference matches this season and will also vie for attention from the committee.
"As a team and a program, we have a lot of respect for Skidmore, and at times maybe a little too much, so it sure feels great to turn the tables on them after they beat us at home for the championship last year," head coach Johan Dulfer said. "I am incredibly fortunate to have such an incredible assistant coach in Sarah (Morton). Her game plan for today was incredibly accurate and the girls executed it almost flawlessly. I thought the key to the match was our improved serving accuracy along with the fact that we limited their primary hitters in both the number of kills and their hitting percentage. It's amazing to me that a group this young knows how to fight back and come from behind as often as we did today. Sarah and I are incredibly proud of what this group has done this year and hope that we're not done yet."
Clarkson struggled on Friday with numerous errors against Friday, and that malady carried over into Saturday’s championship match as Clarkson had 17 total errors, including 11 attack errors, to help give Skidmore a 27-25 victory. However, the Knights drastically reduced their errors in the next four sets and turned on the offense when necessary in the final three. Tied at 17-17, Clarkson won eight of the final 10 points in set number two to claim the win, and trailing by five midway through the third the Knights again found another gear to take a 25-23 win home by winning six of the last seven points of the set.
Junior Lani Durio (Austin, TX) was virtually flawless for the Golden Knights, running an offense that had 66 kills to the opposition’s 39. Durio, who was chosen as the Liberty League Tournament Most Valuable Player, posted a career-high 58 assists to go along with four kills and seven digs for Clarkson. Leading the attack for the Knights, freshman Aishvina Arasu (Brea, CA) notched a season-high of 22 kills and added four blocks while classmate Victoria Kirkemo (Englewood, CO) added in 18 kills and three aces. Sophomore middle Adrienne Walker (Centennial, CO) produced 13 kills, three blocks, and four aces of her own.
Defensively for the Knights, Erika Chin (Katy, TX) had 23 digs and produced three aces for good measure, while Kirstie Shurie (LaCanada, CA) added 17 digs.
Clarkson was aggressive and dominant on offense despite its errors, producing 66 kills and 12 aces as well as seven blocks for 85 points overall. Skidmore had just 48 points, highlighted by 39 kills and two aces.
Skidmore was led by its conference Player of the Year Corinne Palmer, who had 11 kills and five blocks, Sam Friedman led the team with 32 digs.