Volleyball falls to Gannon in NCAA Tournament

The Mercyhurst volleyball team fell to cross-town rival Gannon in the first round of NCAA play.

The Knights also defeated the Lakers in the first round of PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) play; however, the team received an NCAA bid the following week. During the regular season the ‘Hurst split with Gannon, winning at home and losing on the road.

Prior to the NCAA bid, three members of the team were appointed with all-PSAC honors.

Senior Elyse Texido was named 2012 PSAC West Defensive Player of the Year recording 666 digs, accounting for a new school record. Joining Texido, were fellow seniors Becky Smith and Becky Leusch. Leusch finished the season with a team-high 343 kills, Smith added 248 kills alongside 124 blocks.

Head coach Ryan Patton thinks the all-PSAC selections represent the team as a whole.

“Our team’s trademark is how well we balance each other out,” said Patton. “In a lot of ways, having one or three players honored is truly honoring the whole team.”

Senior Kiera Rebert agrees.

“We were all extremely excited to have all-PSAC selections on our team, not only for the three amazing athletes but also for being recognized as a program,” said Rebert. “It fueled our confidence going into post season play.”

After losing in the PSAC tournament, hopes for continuing on in NCAA play were all the team had left.

“In mid-September, we looked at the standings and our hopes were bleak,” said Patton. “We knew we did not have much wiggle room, we had to get hot and spark a run, and we did.”

The Hurst drew the task of trying to defeat the Golden Knights again, who were the number two seed in the region. With a 28-5 record, Gannon’s wins were the most by a Gannon volleyball team since 1993.

“We spent time working on the little technical things at practice, we tweaked and improved the physical part of our game however; our mental side changed the most,” Rebert said.

When the Hurst faced Gannon in the NCAA Tournament, the Lakers fell in a 4-game match.

The Lady Knights won by scores of 25-13, 20-25, 26-24, and 23-25. The match was played at the on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University.

In the fourth match, the Lakers never gave up, rallying 10 straight points fueled by service aces from Elyse Texido.

Mercyhurst finished with a 25-11 record, representing the most wins for the program since 1993. The Lakers defeated every other team in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division for the first time ever.

“An NCAA tournament appearance sets the tone for following seasons,” said Rebert. “It’s an exciting experience and a feeling that is contagious. It is now a goal the program will continuously strive for.”

Along with Rebert, six other seniors exit the program in 2012. Elyse Texido, Becky Leusch, Becky Smith, Amanda Balasko, Katie Powell, and Gretta Freyermuth.