Point Park's run at AMC title comes up just short with five-set loss in the finals
Nov. 14, 2009
MT. VERNON, Ohio - The Point Park University volleyball team made a run at the American Mideast Conference championship Saturday but came up just short.
The most successful season in the history of Point Park volleyball ended Saturday with a 3-2 loss to Walsh in the finals of the AMC tournament. Earlier in the day, the Pioneers (32-8) knocked off top seed and tournament host Mt. Vernon Nazarene, 3-1, to earn a berth in the championship round.
Point Park came within a few points of qualifying for one of the 36 spots in the NAIA tournament, but instead the Pioneers' first loss since Oct. 17 ended their season.
Walsh (28-8), which was the only team to beat Point Park twice this season, escaped by scores of 25-20, 20-25, 25-15, 23-25, 15-10 to secure the conference's second bid to the NAIA tourney. Regular season champion Shawnee State (33-3, 12-0 AMC) earned the league's other national berth.
Point Park entered the championship match having won 12 consecutive matches. The Pioneers upset Mt. Vernon Nazarene by scores of 25-23, 22-25, 25-18, 25-21 and ended the Cougars' 13-match winning streak on their home floor.
Point Park was the No. 4 seed in the five-team tournament. Walsh, the No. 3 seed, beat second-seeded Cedarville, 3-2, in Saturday's other semifinal match. The Pioneers opened the tournament with a 3-2 victory over fifth-seeded Northwestern Ohio Friday.
Point Park's record-setting season was full of accomplishments, although it came close to notching one of the biggest of all - the AMC championship.
Along the way, the Pioneers set a school record for victories in a season by eclipsing the previous mark by seven wins. Other highlights included two long winning streak - the one that was snapped Saturday and the 15-match streak that saw the Pioneers go undefeated in the month of September.
The Pioneers had several standout performers this season, all of which turned in strong performances Saturday.
Freshman outside hitter Lindsey Oberacker (Erie/McDowell), who was not in the lineup for the regular season loss at Walsh, gave the Cavaliers all they could handle. Oberacker had 17 kills and 12 digs in the title match just hours after putting up 17 kills, nine digs, four blocks and four aces in the semifinal round.
Ashley Zietak (Pittsburgh/Brashear), a junior middle hitter, posted 11 kills and four blocks in the finals after recording 14 kills and six blocks versus Mt. Vernon Nazarene.
Senior middle hitter Megan Lamens (New Baltimore/Berlin Bros.) capped off her career by registering 12 kills in each of Saturday's matches.
Rachel Roddy (Greensburg/Greensburg Salem), a junior right side who already has over 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs on her resume, ended the season by recording a double-double in each match. Roddy had 12 kills, 15 digs and five blocks in the title match, and totaled 13 kills and 16 digs in the semis.
Sophomore setter Katie Geary (Pittsburgh/Shaler) contributed 56 and 55 assists in the semifinals and finals, respectively.
The strong defense that carried Point Park all season long was once again on display Saturday. The trio of freshmen defensive players Amanda Ardinger (Moon/Moon Area), Alyssa Hall (Moon/Moon Area) and Margaret Gillooly (Cranberry Twp./Seneca Valley) helped the Pioneers tie a season high with 97 digs in all three tournament matches.
Gillooly had a career-high 20 digs versus Mt. Vernon Nazarene while Ardinger and Hall had 18 each. In the finals, Ardinger led the way with 26 digs, and Hall and Gillooly had 17 and 15, respectively.
Point Park's Mike Bruno completed his fifth season as the Pioneers' coach with a host of accomplishments. Bruno is the longest tenured coach in the history of the program, and he is also Point Park's all-time leader in wins with a record of 104-82 at the school.
Last week he registered his 100th win at Point Park. In 10 years as a head coach at the collegiate level, he has a record of 220-140 (.611), which amounts to an average of 22 victories per season. He notched his 200th career win earlier this year at the Carnegie Mellon Tournament.
Bruno guided Point Park to its third consecutive winning season, something that had never been done in school history, and its third trip to the AMC tournament in the last four years.
On Sunday, the NAIA will announce the pairings for the 12 NAIA Opening Round matches. The winners of those matches will join the 12 teams that have a bye in the opening round in the 24-team, pool-play portion of the NAIA Championships.