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Volleyball Finishes Runner-Up at Neumann Invitational

Natalie Pisch
Natalie Pisch

ASTON, Pa. – The Haverford College volleyball team finished as the runner-up at the Neumann Knights Invitational on Saturday. The Fords (9-3) easily dispatched Widener in four sets to finish with a perfect 3-0 mark in pool play. Crossing over to opponents from the other pool for the championship match, Haverford was defeated in three sets by tournament champion Salisbury (11-1).

In addition to the team's success on the court, sophomore Sara Matsumura was named to the All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of Saturday's action.

Haverford 3, Widener 1 (24-26, 25-20, 25-19, 25-10)

Even when the Fords dropped their opening set against the Pride, they led for most of that game. After splitting the first two points, Haverford never trailed again until the match reached 15-all. The team's lead in the early portion reached as many as four points on numerous occasions. The match was tied on four more occasions before Haverford jumped out to a 23-20 lead which prompted a Pride timeout. Widener rallied back with three straight points. Later tied at 24-all, the Pride got a kill and service ace to seal the set.

Haverford again controlled the vast majority of the second set. Trailing early, the Fords capitalized on an attack error and ball handling error to tie the match at 14. Those two points started a 6-0 run that helped Haverford lead for the remainder of the set. Back-to-back kills from Julia Gallagher-Teske sealed the set and tied the match at one game all.

The third and fourth sets completely belonged to the Fords. After being down 1-0 and tied at 2-2, Haverford never trailed again after taking a 3-2 advantage in the third. Haverford's lead grew to 19-10 when Gallagher-Teske found a hole in the defense for a service ace. The Pride never truly threatened, only closing the gap to 23-19, before kills from Claire Nicholas and Gallagher-Teske put the Fords on the brink of victory. The clinching fourth set was never in doubt as the Fords grabbed a 14-1 lead and rode that to an easy 25-10 victory.

Natalie Pisch led the Fords with 22 kills in the Widener match, while Nicholas added 18 more kills with a .357 hitting percentage. Gallagher-Teske made it three Fords in double figures with 10 kills to go along with a solo block. Matsumura tallied a team-high 35 digs while hitters Pisch and Nicholas also chipped in with 16 and 12 digs, respectively. Zoe Wong totaled 49 assists over the four sets. 

Salisbury 3, Haverford 0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-17)

Going up against a very tough Salisbury team in the championship match, the Sea Gulls raced out to an early 7-0 edge in the opening set. That first rally proved too much for Haverford to overcome, but the Fords would respond in the second set. The second set also saw Haverford fall behind early. The Sea Gulls ran off four straight points to open up an 8-4 lead after being tied at four-all. However, trailing by as much as 20-13, the Fords made Salisbury earn every point in the second set. With Wong serving, the Fords got three straight points back and had the score at 21-18 before Salisbury secured the set with four of the last six points.

In the third and final set, the Fords were trailing by just two – 15-13 – before Salisbury ripped off three straight points and eight of the next nine overall to take a 23-14 lead. The Fords battled back with three straight points, but the deficit was again too much to overcome in the 25-17 third set. Nicholas tallied 13 kills in the championship match to lead the way. Pisch added 11 more kills while Wong distributed 28 assists.

Volleyball will return home on Wednesday night for the start of Centennial Conference action as Muhlenberg comes to campus. Action inside the Gooding '84 Arena will get underway with first serve at 7 p.m.