LATROBE, Pa. – The Franciscan volleyball team picked up its first win of the season as the Lady Barons split the final day of the Bearcat Challenge. FUS defeated Waynesburg, 3-0, in the first match before falling to hosts St. Vincent, 3-0, in the final match of the day for the Lady Barons.
Franciscan opened the day with a 3-0 win over Waynesburg by set scores of 25-22, 25-21, 25-23. Finding themselves in a 10-4 hole, the Lady Barons dug down deep and took the lead 13-11 in the first set. Waynesburg eventually tied the game at 16-16 but Franciscan kept battling and eventually pushed its lead to 21-17 behind a service ace from Therese Moore. Franciscan held on as the team finished off the first set with two-straight points to win 25-22. The Lady Barons continued strong serving and hitting into the second and third sets to carry them to two more set wins and the match win.
"Maria (Ciola) and Maddie (Raffa) hit and served really well," complimented head coach Kelly Herrmann. "As a team, we served and hit really well and were able to serve [Waynesburg] out of a system a lot!"
Stepping in as starting setter, Moore worked hard to keep consistency with her hitters. Moore finished the match with a career- best 26 assists and added 10 digs for her first double-double. Maria Ciola led the Lady Barons with 10 kills and six digs while Maddie Raffa chipped in six kills and eight digs.
"The team was very composed and made good plays in tough moment" continued coach Herrmann. "It was good to get first win and it was a good experience for us."
Franciscan carried that momentum into the match against St. Vincent and was competitive in the first two sets but was playing a little tired and tight.
The Lady Barons and St. Vincent were locked in a tight back and forth battle until the Bearcats pulled away with a 22-16 lead. Franciscan got one point back thanks to a block from Meghan Bayer, but St. Vincent closed out the set with three straight points to take a 1-0 lead.
Franciscan seemingly had control of the second set as the Lady Barons jumped out to a 7-0 lead early in thanks to strong serving by Raffa, but St. Vincent hung around and eventually chisled the lead down to 10-7. After a 3-1 run for the Lady Barons, SVC used a 5-0 run to tie the game, 13-13. The two teams went back and forth until the score was knotted 23-23 thanks to a kill from Ciola. Franciscan couldn't keep the service, however, after an attack error from the back row gave the Bearcats a 24-23 lead and control of the set point. SVC blocked a final attack attempt from Franciscan to close out the match, 25-23.
The third set began just as close to a battle as the first two, but thanks to a lengthy delay, the Lady Barons fell a little flat and St. Vincent was able to use several big runs to take the final set 25-13.
"We talked about emotional toughness and focus," remarked coach Herrmann. "It is very clear our demeanor as a team is not a serious one and we don't play our best volleyball when we're serious. In that final set, we were looking inwards and we just got tight. The end of the match was not the best volleyball of the week, but we are a young team and we have some things to work. I told the girls, 'don't walk out of the locker room mopey, figure out what you need to work on and come to practice on Monday ready to work and to keep getting better.'"
Ciola led the Lady Barons with 10 kills and nine digs while Moore dished out 16 assists. Raffa had two kills but posted 15 digs in the match.
For the weekend, Ciola totaled 32 kills, 23 digs and had three service aces and was named to the 2017 Bearcat Challenge All-tournament team for her efforts on the court.
The Lady Barons will have a bit of a break as they return to the court on September 12 when they travel to Marietta for a midweek match.
Prior to that match, the Franciscan volleyball team will host a Dig Pink Rally on September 9. More information on the day, the Side-Out Foundation, and how to donate on line visit – www.franciscanathletics.com/DigPink