Saint Francis (Pa.) Advances to EIVA Semifinals With Thrilling Win Over Princeton

4/25/2009

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LORETTO, Pa. - Third-seeded Saint Francis had four players in double-digit kills, swatted 10 service aces, and held off a valiant Princeton comeback bid to win a thrilling 3-2 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Match on Saturday night at DeGol Arena.

Junior Pete Freyer (Orchard Park, N.Y. / Orchard Park) hit a scorching .895 with 17 kills and no errors on just 19 swings to go with one ace and two blocks to lead the Red Flash to the 30-25, 30-26, 28-30, 32-34, 15-9 victory. Junior Jordan Varee (Conneautville, Pa. / Conneaut Valley) had 18 kills, four aces, eight digs and six blocks.

Jeff McCown paced the sixth-seeded Tigers with 19 kills, a .593 hitting percentage and three blocks. Brandon Denham dished out 59 assists.

SFU improved to 15-14 overall, and will now advance to the EIVA semifinals for the third time in the last four years. The Red Flash will play regional rival Juniata, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Rec Hall, on the campus of Penn State University. The Eagles earned a bye into the semifinals by securing the second seed in the EIVA playoffs. The Nittany Lions, who earned the top seed, will play No. 5 George Mason in the other semifinal.

Senior Shane Conley (Pittsburgh, Pa. / North Allegheny) had 57 assists, three aces and five digs, junior Nick Rivett (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Fox Chapel) added 12 kills, two aces, five digs and two blocks, junior Patrick McManamon (Huntingdon, Pa. / Huntingdon) hit .778 with seven kills and six blocks, and freshman John Wappler (Warrendale, Pa. / North Allegheny) had nine digs and two assists.

The Red Flash took the first set in convincing fashion with a 30-25 win. After scoring the first points of the game on a kill from Freyer, the Red Flash worked their way up to a 7-4 lead on a service error by Princeton's Carl Hamming. A kill by Rivett from Conley gave them a 16-13 advantage, and another kill by McManamon stretched the lead to 25-21. The two teams then traded service errors, with an error by Jeff McCown sealing the deal for Saint Francis.

Set two was a battle from the start as the Tigers took the first point of the set before Saint Francis picked up their first point on a Princeton error. The Red Flash trailed 6-3 when Princeton erred three times to tie the score at 6-6. The two teams again found themselves tied at 13 all before a Princeton attack error gave Saint Francis their first lead of the set at 14-13. The Tigers and the Red Flash would tie the score up nine more times before a Varee kill put the Flash up 23-22. The Flash rolled from there, with a kill from Varee and a Princeton error giving SFU the 30-26 decision.

The third set was another tight one, as Vincent Tuminelli's kill earned a point for the Tigers to start the game. A kill by Rivett tied the score at 1-1, and the teams traded points from there, tying up the score 15 more times before Phillip Rosenburg put the Tigers ahead 19-18. Princeton went on a 5-2 run to take a 24-20 advantage. An attack error by Tuminelli brought the Red Flash within one, only to again fall behind 27-24 on another kill from Rosenburg. Rivett's kill put the score at 29-27, but the Tigers earned the final two puts to earn their first victory of the night by a score of 30-28.

Saint Francis took a quick 3-0 lead in set three, and then took it to 7-4 with a kill by Varee. The Tigers came back to tie the score at 10-10. Kills from Tuminelli for the Tigers and Varee for the Red Flash, combined with a few service errors kept the score close throughout the set. A kill by Freyer put SFU ahead 16-15. Junior Alex Fortney (York, Pa. / Central York) picked up another point soon after, putting the Flash up 20-19. McManamon kept them ahead, but Tigers remained strong and Rosenburg tied the score at 27 all. After four chances at set point, Princeton finally took a hard-earned 34-32 decision to tie the match at 2-2.

SFU finally came back to form in the fifth set when the team hit .750. Freyer had four kills on four attempts to lead the charge, and Conley picked up two of his three aces. Tied at 3-3, the Red Flash went on a 5-1 run to jump out 8-4, capped by back-to-back aces by Conley. Princeton pulled within three at 10-7, but a service error, back-to-back kills by Freyer and a Varee service ace put SFU up with a commanding 14-7 lead. Another kill by Freyer sealed Saint Francis' third trip back to Rec Hall for the EIVA semifinals.

Article courtesy of Saint Francis (Pa.) athletics.

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