The Best of the Barons #1 Volleyball’s 3-Set Comeback in the AMCC Finals

The Best of the Barons #1: Volleyball's Three-Set Comeback in the AMCC Finals
The Best of the Barons #1: Volleyball's Three-Set Comeback in the AMCC Finals

There hasn't been a tougher year of Baron Athletics to try and narrow down the top ten moments. More wins, more championships, more playoff appearances, and more All-Conference athletes than ever before mean more great moments to choose from.

We've looked back through the year and picked the ten most emotional, impactful moments from the 2014-15 athletic season. Our rankings will be released periodically throughout the summer as we build our way to no. 1.

1. Volleyball’s 3-Set Comeback in the AMCC Finals

The emotion is clear from the picture: pure joy. A joy that comes from accomplishing what few beyond those on the team expected. In this case a 3-2 win in the AMCC Finals.

That was the result of Lady Baron volleyball’s match against Penn St.-Altoona. The result in itself is worth a joyous celebration but it was the journey to get there that made the moment the season’s best.

With the start of the third set it seemed like the journey would be to a runner-up finish for FUS. The Lions, who came into the match undefeated in conference play, were up 2-0 (25-19, 25-18) and already had a 5-3 lead in set three. Then head coach Kelly Herrmann subbed in little used right side hitter Bella Wedig and the game changed.

The 5-3 deficit soon turned into a 16-10 lead and eventually a 25-19 set win for FUS. The momentum never swung back in Altoona’s favor and after a 25-22 fourth set victory, Franciscan once again came back in the tie-breaker. A series of kills from Ellie Waldsmith and Dani Link turned a 6-3 deficit into a 15-9 win and the program’s first AMCC Championship.

2. The Tables Turn for Women’s Tennis vs. Behrend

The playoffs just aren’t the same as the regular season. It’s a lesson Lady Baron tennis learned the hard way in 2013 and 2014.  After an 8-0 regular season conference record in 2015, the team was focused on avenging the previous year’s loss to Penn St. – Behrend in the conference finals.

After a confident 5-0 victory in the semi-finals, Franciscan would once again have to get through the Lions in order to win its first conference championship.

With the help of more experience, more depth, and a new focus on the virtue of gratitude, the Lady Barons took control in doubles play. The team’s No. 2 doubles pair of Allison Jensen and Erin Coyne won their match 8-5 while Anna O’Conner and Ashley Veazy won at No. 3 doubles, 8-4, giving FUS a 2-1 advantage heading into singles play.

Needing three of the six singles matches to clinch the victory, FUS once again turned to the back half of its line-up. Jensen, Coyne, and O’Connor all won their matches in straight sets at No. 4, 5, and 6 singles respectively to win the first conference title in program history. 

3. FUS Hosts, Wins AMCC XC Championships

For Franciscan’s cross country teams, meets mean traveling. Since the programs began in 2002 the school has been without a home course, and so, when the 2014 season started, few of the FUS runners had competed in front of their friends and family. 

That all changed when the school completed a home course and hosted the first Franciscan Invite. The Lady Barons won the meet, which featured all of the school’s conference opponents, led by overall winner Sydney Novak.

That moment in itself would have made our top ten list, but it was what happened two and a half months later when Franciscan hosted the AMCC Championships that comes in at #3. 

Enter the meet as the favorite, FUS suffered what could have been a catastrophic setback early on when Novak went down in the first two miles. With the top runner out, a pack of six senior runners took it upon themselves to carry the team.

Leah Kaisler proved to be the leader of the pack and finished as the top FUS runner for the first time in her career. Her ninth place finish overall was followed by teammates in 11th, 12th, 13th, and 15th place. The group earned just enough points to beat out Penn St. – Behrend by six and claim the program’s fifth conference title.

4. Last Game of the Year Puts Women’s Basketball In Playoffs

The highest non-championship winning moment on our list goes to Lady Baron basketball’s 52-39 over D’Youville College on February 21, 2015.

The stage was set before the final regular season game began. With one AMCC playoff spot still unclaimed, all the Lady Barons needed was a victory over D’Youville on the road to claim their first playoff appearance.

Despite being the favorite, the nerves of the moment clearly effected FUS in the first half. The Lady Barons shot just 20 percent and found themselves down by two at the break.

Whatever was said during halftime worked. The Lady Barons’ two leading scorers, senior Lacey Huck and freshman Sarah Schriner, looked like two different players over the next 20 minutes. Schriner scored 15 and Huck added another eight points, two assists, and two steals as FUS routed the Spartans 33-18 in the second half.

The win gave the Lady Barons their first playoff appearance since joining the NCAA.

5. Sulak & Gallagher Lead Barons to Third NCAA Tournament

To say that winning conference championships has become commonplace for Baron tennis would be

a bit of a stretch, but it has certainly become a habit. The 2015 season was no different after Franciscan swept the regular season and defeated Penn St. – Altoona in the AMCC finals.

The championship match wasn’t without some drama however as Altoona grabbed a dominant win in no. 1 doubles and forced Franciscan to lean on its depth for points. Fortunately for the Barons, the team’s six-man freshman class had already created the program’s deepest roster.

That freshman class went on to contribute all five of the points Franciscan needed to win the match, including a no. 2 doubles win from Jarek Sulak and John Gallagher that completed their undefeated season in doubles play.

The win qualified Barons for their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

6. Women’s Soccer Ends Behrend’s Two-Year Win Streak

With a 2-1 win over three-time defending champion Penn St.-Behrend, the Lady Barons soccer team not only kick started a seven game-win streak, but helped the program turn the corner from up-and-comer to conference contender.

The last meeting between the two teams came in the conference semi-finals the year before. The Lady Barons lost what was just the second playoff game in program history 4-2. Less than a year later, the Lions hadn’t lost a conference match in over two years.

With midfielders Julia Coccoza, Sarah Pettinger, and Elizabeth Krilich taking control of the center of the field, Franciscan turned the tables. After an own goal in the first half, FUS scored twice in the second while its defense stifled the PSB attack.

The win was the catalyst for the Lady Baron’s program-best 13-5-1 (8-1) record, and was good enough for a co-regular season championship.

7. Program Records for Lacrosse Teams on Senior Day

Every program’s senior day is special, particularly when it’s paired with a win, but senior day for both the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams brought program bests along with emotion.

The day started with the Lady Baron team capturing a hard fought win over Medaille.

Tied up 8-8 at the half, FUS went on a 7-1 run to start the second. The 15-9 lead didn’t hold, however, as series of transition goals and free position shots brought the Mavericks back within one with six minutes left. FUS responded with another three goal run of its own and the Mavericks counter was cut short when the game clock hit zero and FUS captured the 20-18 win.

Looking to o build off of their first win of the season two days earlier, the Barons took an early lead over the Mavericks and never looked back. Freshman attacker Jonas McCaig clearly felt the momentum carry over as he scored four of the game’s first five goals against Medaille College. After heading into half time up 5-2, the rest of the team followed suite, scoring seven straight on their way to a 13-3 win.

The men’s win cemented a new program record for wins in a season and completed a Senior Day sweep for Franciscan lacrosse. 

8. Lacey Huck Scores Her 1,000th Point

The top highlight of the Lady Baron's season will come later on in our ranking but the season opener offered a particularly special moment. Heading into the 2014-15 season, senior captain Lacey Huck was four points shy of becoming the first FUS women's basketball player, and first basketball player of the new athletics era, to reach 1,000 career points.

With a career scoring average in the double digits, reaching that milestone in the team's first game was an assumed formality and Huck's family, friends, and even students from her student-teaching assignment packed Finnegan Fieldhouse.

After a free throw and a jumper brought her within one point, Huck was fouled and sent to the line for two shots. Nerves may have gotten the best of her on the first attempt, which hit rim and bounced out, but the second went through and the crowd went wild.

Huck finished the game with 17 points and eventually led the Lady Barons to another top moment on our list.

9. Men's Soccer Wins 5-4 in Double Overtime

Baron soccer's August 30 match against Thiel College was a coming out party for both freshman Leo Herrmann and the Baron attack as a whole.

The game was the team's second of the season, coming just 24 hours after a 2-2 double-overtime tie against Westminster, and started rather unassumingly. The first damage was done by Thiel with a goal in the twelfth minute and that effort stood alone at the end of the first.

Seemingly two completely different, and more offensive minded, teams took the field for the second half. Just a minute after the half began Herrmann scored the second goal of his college career to pull the Barons even.

Herrmann's goal kick started a back and forth that saw Thiel claim a one-goal lead three more times only to see FUS pull even soon after. The longest span of time in between second half goals was 13 minutes with the final score of regulation coming from Franciscan's Edwin de St. Aubin with seven minutes left.

Overtime barely took any time at all, and once again it was Herrmann scoring quickly. The forward completed his first career hat trick with a game winner just 20 seconds into the extra period. The win brought FUS to 1-0-1 on the season, the best start in program history.

10. Men's Basketball Saves Season With La Roche Win

Things weren't looking good for Baron basketball heading into their road match-up against La Roche College. The team was on a 10-game losing streak and tied at the bottom of the AMCC standings with the Redhawks team they'd be facing next. A loss against La Roche would all but seal a season of regression for the Baron program.

With 5:28 left in the game, things looked even worse. Already down 45-38 the Baron's senior captain and leading scorer, Moses Sullivan, picked up his fifth foul.

Now without their go-to scorer, Franciscan became more aggressive on both ends of the floor. A pair of clutch free throws and a three from freshman Jonas McCaig with two minutes left gave FUS a one-point lead.

La Roche answered back with a layup on the next possession and what was a defensive game threatened to become a shootout. Franciscan once again responded, this time with a running floater from point guard Jacob Divens, but from there the FUS defense locked down the Redhawks. FUS held La Roche scoreless in the final minute and forty seconds to win their first conference game and turn the momentum of the season.