Volleyball Ends Season With Loss To Gannon in Atlantic Region Championship
Wheeling, W. Va. – The Wheeling University Volleyball team (29-6, 15-1) ended the 2021 season on Saturday night when they fell to Gannon 3-0 in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Championship Game. The Cardinals fought hard throughout the match but were unable to get past the Golden Knight Blockers throughout the night.
In each of the three sets the Cardinals scored first, and that was no different in set one as Tylah Yoemans got the first kill of the night to give Wheeling a 1-0 lead in set one. The teams would battle back and forth throughout the set and traded the first 12 points of the set to tie the score at 6-6. The Golden Knights were the first to separate themselves going on a 7-1 run that brought the score to 13-7. Gannon continued to hold the lead and had Wheeling on the ropes with a 24-15 lead. However, Wheeling rattled off three straight points before the Golden Knights closed out the set for a 25-18 set one win. Gannon had a 1-0 lead in the match, marking the first time all tournament the Cardinals were down in the match.
In the second set, the teams once again traded points to start the set before Gannon went on another run. This time it was a 12-1 run that took the set from being knotted up to a 16-5 Golden Knights lead. Wheeling continued to battle their way back into the set and came as close as 24-16 before Gannon once again closed out the set with a 25-16 win. Wheeling's hitters combined for a .116 hitting percentage in the set, but unfortunately, it only got lower from there. As a team, they hit .124 and just were never able to recover throughout the night. With Gannon holding a 2-0 lead in the match, Wheeling was determined to get back into it in the third set.
Wheeling got out to their best start of the night in set three asLexi Reinerthad a kill and an attack error brought the score to 2-0. However, much like the rest of the night, Gannon went on another run, this time 7-0, to take a 7-2 lead. This time, however, the Cardinals would not go down easy and made it a two-point game midway through the set. They were within two points of the Golden Knights several times throughout the night, by they could never cross that threshold. Gannon held on to a 22-18 lead, before firing off the final three points of the match to win 25-18 and earn the 3-0 sweep over Wheeling and their second straight Atlantic Regional Championship. It was a crushing loss for the Cardinals, but this team put in tremendous work throughout the season, and this senior class has everything to be proud of.
Among that class of seniors wasAllonda Watkins, who finished the day with a team-high and season-high seven kills in the effort. FreshmanMady Winterscame in right behind her with six kills in the game. LiberoAudrey Francis was all over the court tonight on the defensive side of the ball, finishing the night with 20 digs. She was the only Cardinal with double-digit digs on the day, with bothKarlee LoisandKarly Niesencoming through with seven digs each. Niesen continued to set the ball well throughout the night, finishing with 23 assists. The Cardinals have a lot of talent leaving, but a lot of talent coming back as well as they look forward to the future of the program.
The Wheeling University Volleyball team now heads into the offseason, where they look to continue their growth and begin the march back to the 2022 Atlantic Regional Tournament.