STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Sam Kelly put in one of her most dominating performances of the season against the Pitt.-Bradford Panthers, giving Franciscan a 3-1 victory during their annual breast cancer research fundraiser, Dig Pink. The Sophomore Libero set the tone with two aces and 25 digs, nearly doubling the next highest dig total of 16 by junior setter Amy O'Keefe.
Kelly's impressive performance against the Panthers was witnessed by a full crowd at Kuzma Court to raise money during Franciscan's home coming weekend for breast cancer research. What the majority of those in attendance did not see was her immense pain she was suffering the whole game.
"She was in a lot of pain," Head Coach Kelly Herrmann said. "She was in tears in between games from the amount of pain she had to endure. What makes her so special is her composure to rally herself and fight through it to get the win."
Kelly, who has been practicing only a few times a week to stay off her injury, gave her young teammates an example of composure and consistency to model. Kelly flew corner to corner to grab digs against the Panthers who's game-plan was to stretch The Lady Barons defense as much as possible in order to successfully shoot balls on the court. Kelly did not let that happen, no matter the cost.
"Sam's digs were not easy," Herrmann said. "She had to fly all game and did not let their offense dictate the game against us. She responded and was absolutely key in our victory."
Franciscan went into this match having gone 2-1 against their Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponents. This game gave the Lady Barons an opportunity to not only stretch that record higher but to knock down the Panthers who were sitting at 2-0 in AMCC play before the match.
FUS came out strong in the first game coming out with a 25-19 victory against the Panthers . Bradford responded well to their game one loss and pushed FUS into overtime points after coming back from an 18-11 deficit led by their junior Taylor McMillen.
"They are such a strong team," Herrmann said. "They forced a lot of balls and played some really tough rallies. Their head coach, Tina Phillips can take any roster she has and put them together in ways that will always challenge you."
The second game ended in dramatic fashion with Franciscan scrapping out a victory 31-29. After an emotionally draining game the Lady Barons dropped their third game 19-25.
"Consistency is important when you have to play extended games like that," Herrmann said. "You can get emotionally spent and begin to lose your focus."
Focus was in high supply for FUS, who boast one of the deepest rosters in the AMCC. In the fourth and final game of the match substitutions for the Lady Barons helped seal the match victory with a 25-21 win. Freshman outside hitter Mary Moore and junior right side hitter Jackie Zucco subbed in and helped balance the teams mentality. Moore stepped in and game her team three kills and seven digs while Zucco served late in the match to put it away for FUS.
"Our subs really help to lift the team up," Herrmann said. "They help us to stay aggressive and keep us level headed. They can really give us an emotional boost."
Franciscan will look to continue their three game winning streak against Chatham University in a home match on Oct 11.