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The University of Scranton Athletics

Volleyball Splits Pair with Catholic & Juniata; Clinches No. 2 Seed in Landmark Conference Tournament

Photo by: ZJ Morse
Photo by: ZJ Morse

 BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The University of Scranton volleyball team (20-11, 6-1 Landmark) split a pair of Landmark Conference matches to close out the regular season on Saturday afternoon at the conference quad match that was hosted by Moravian.

The Royals rolled to a 3-0 victory over Catholic (14-16, 2-4 Landmark), before dropping a hard fought 3-1 decision to No. 2 Juniata (26-1, 7-0 Landmark) in the second match of the day.

Scranton has clinched the No. 2 seed in this week's Landmark Conference Tournament and will battle either Elizabethtown or Susquehanna in a semifinal matchup on Wednesday, Nov. 2.

Scranton 3, Catholic 0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-19)

In the first set, the Royals opened up an early 6-2 lead and led 11-4 following a kill by junior Stephanie Margolies (Westfield, N.J./Westfield). Catholic was unable to get any closer than five points through the remainder of the set and Scranton stretched the lead into double digits at 22-12 before sophomore Erin Keaveney (Collegeville, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) sealed the victory with a kill.

Catholic grabbed seven of the first 10 points in the second set before the Royals responded by taking five straight and six of the next seven points for a 9-8 edge. The Cardinals regained the lead at 15-13, but sophomore Sophia Hadjiyane (Huntington, N.Y./John Glenn) ignited a six point run with a kill and Hadjiyane came through with another kill to make it 19-15 in favor of the Royals. Keaveney once again finished off the set with a kill in the 25-17 victory.

The two sides traded points for much of the third set and things were deadlocked at 13 apiece before a Cardinals' service error gave Scranton a lead that they would not relinquish. Holding a slight 18-17 lead, the Royals closed things out with seven of the final nine points and a Margolies kill completed the sweep.

Keaveney led the Royals with a career-high 15 kills, while senior Carah Vitkus (Mahopac, N.Y./Mahopac) added 12. Setting up the attack for head coach Jamie Spangler's team was senior Caileigh Cox (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) with 40 assists.

Sophomore Maddie Orth (Nazareth, Pa./Nazareth) paced Scranton defensively with a match-high 13 digs and Vitkus contributed 10.

Juniata 3, Scranton 1 (19-25, 18-25, 25-23, 17-25)

Juniata raced out to an 11-4 lead in the opening set and despite constant fight from the Royals that brought things back within three points on three different occasions including a kill by Vitkus that made it 20-17, the Eagles responded by taking five of the final seven points in the 25-19 win.

Following an Eagles' attack error, the Royals trailed 7-6 in the second set before Juniata registered seven of the next nine points to open up a 14-8 advantage. From there, Scranton cut the lead to five at two different points, but Juniata was able to close out the 25-18 victory and take a two set lead.

In the third set, things were even at 10 apiece when Hadjiyane delivered a kill to jumpstart a five point run that opened up a 15-10 lead. The Royals would hold the lead at 23-20 before the Eagles took three straight to knot things at 23, but a block assist by Cox and Hadjiyane and a kill by Vitkus sent the match to a fourth set after the 25-23 win.

Keaveney came through with a kill to even things at eight in the afore-mentioned fourth set, but Juniata answered with a five point run to take a 13-8 lead and the Royals were unable to get any closer than three the rest of the way.

Hadjiyane and Vitkus paced Scranton with nine kills apiece, while Keaveney added eight and Cox tallied 29 assists in the match.

Freshman Maddie Forry (Reading, Pa./Exeter Township) added 18 digs and five assists for the Royals.

Lily Podolan led Juniata with 19 kills.

A full preview of Wednesday's semifinal matchup will be posted at in the coming days.