STEUBENVILLE – The Franciscan volleyball fought hard but ultimately fell to Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent, Mount Aloysius, 3-0 Wednesday evening by set scores of 25-19, 25-20, 25-21.
Senior captain Maria Ciola (Burk, VA/Mother of Divine Grace) led the attack for the Lady Barons as she had one of her best hitting performances of the season. Ciola finished the day with 17 kills behind a .368 hitting percentage. The senior added 12 digs for her fourth double-double of the season and third against an AMCC team.
"Maria clearly had a great game," remarked head coach Kelly Herrmann. "She is really stepping up. She wants to play back row, she says 'physically, I am feeling good enough, this is the end of my senior year, let me play.'".
A lineup shakeup brought freshman Maria Bosco to the outside and the Cranberry Twp., PA native thrived in the brand-new position. Bosco finished the day with nine kills as she hit .217 for the day and added a block assist.
"For her first ever game on the outside, and a freshman, she had a really strong performance," remarked Coach Herrmann.
Freshman setter Emily Nutter (Newark, OH/Newark Catholic) played well for the Lady Barons as she finished the day with 25 assists, eight digs, and impressive five kills without an error, as she continues to grow in her role for the Lady Barons. For the season, Nutter averages 4.67 assists per set with 280 total assists for the season, already landing her in the top-10 list for assists in a season at Franciscan.
The Lady Barons got out to a quick start in the first set, leading 9-3, after a kill from Nutter, but the Mounties battled back in and eventually tied the game at 12-12. Mount Aloysius eventually took a 16-12 lead. Franciscan didn't back down as Bosco and junior Lauren Betar (Altoona, PA/Bishop Guilfoyle) registered back-to-back points with a kill and service ace to stave off two set points but the Mounties closed out the first set with a kill from the left side to win the first set, 25-19.
The second set began as the first did, and like the first set, was tied at 12-12 midway through. This time, it was Franciscan who broke the tie and took the lead 15-13 thanks to a kill from Ciola. The Mounties tied the game 15-15 and eventually took a 19-16 lead. The Lady Barons rattled off a pair of points to get back to within one, 19-18, but the Mounties held on to the lead and closed out the set with a 6-4 run to claim a 25-21 victory.
The Mounties took an early 10-3 lead in the final set but the Lady Barons didn't back down. Franciscan eventually cut the lead back down to one, 16-15, thanks to a kill from Caitlin O'Malley (Alturas, CA/Modoc). The two teams traded points before the Mounties scored three straight points to take a 20-16 lead. Franciscan trimmed the lead back down to two, 22-20, before Mount Aloysius closed out the match with a 3-1 run to win 25-21.
"We have conference matches left, and I am confident that if we play like we did tonight, we can win the matches we need to and make the playoffs," commented Coach Herrmann.
The Lady Barons take the court on Friday in their Military Appreciation Night against Capital. The first serve is scheduled for 7:00 pm.