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Clarkson Wins Unbeatens Duel For Vball Title

POTSDAM – For the first time since 2015, the Clarkson University Volleyball team captured the Liberty League regular-season title, downing fellow unbeaten Ithaca College in four sets (25-21, 24-26, 25-16, 25-21) in conference action Friday afternoon at Alumni Gymnasium.

The Golden Knights improved to 6-0 in league play and 21-3 overall while the Bombers dropped to 15-9 and 5-1. Clarkson will close out the conference season on Saturday when the team travels to face RIT, while Ithaca will head home to take on St. Lawrence.

A glance at the stat sheet quickly shows the difference in the match, as Clarkson was impeccable on serve receive and from the service line, while the Bombers struggled in that regard. The Knights recorded 12 aces with just four service errors and no reception errors, but Ithaca fell victim to 16 service errors and failed to ace the Green and Gold in the entirety of the match. The swing of 28 points prior to a second touch loomed large.

In the first set, Clarkson recorded just a single kill in its first nine points but did have three aces as the Knights rolled out to a 9-5 edge in the early going. More errors allowed Clarkson to extend its lead to as many as six points on two occasions, including a 17-11 edge at the midway point of the set. However, the Bombers battled back thanks to kills from four different players, but the Bombers could never quite tie the set. Up by only a point late (22-21), Rachel Reusch and Kristin Werdine notched kills and an attack error gave the Knights a win in set one. Ithaca produced 16 kills in the first set against Clarkson's six kills, but the miscues by the Bombers allowed the Knights to sneak away with the game.

Set two was a back and forth affair, as neither team could more than a three-point lead, and that advantage came very early in the game. Clarkson led late (20-19) on a kill from Delaney Harrison, but Ithaca won five of the next seven points to put the Knights on the brink. A kill from Maddie Bredehoeft and an attack error tied the set at 24-24, but back-to-back kills from Reagan Stone and Sarah Jennison allowed Ithaca to knot the match up at one set apiece.

Clarkson eight of the first 10 points in the third set thanks to a strong effort from the service line by Werdine. Ithaca recovered and found a bit of a groove, but never found enough to battle all the way back. Clarkson took advantage midway through the set, winning five straight points to turn a modest-lead (14-11) into a significant advantage (19-11). The Bombers came back a little late thanks to consecutive kills from Alison Lipton, but Clarkson's advantage was too much to overcome as the Knights won the final three sets to win the game going away.

The fourth game was a lot like the third, with Clarkson winning nine of the first 11 points, again with Werdine at the service line putting pressure on Ithaca's back row. The Knights expanded the advantage to double digits on three occasions, but the Bombers chipped away, eventually getting to within four (20-16). The two teams exchanged points for the next six points, allowing Clarkson to get closer to the ending stance, eventually reaching that spot with a kill from Rachel Reusch.

The Bombers had a higher hitting percentage in three of the four sets, though the margin was virtually even in the final two games.

Kate Isaksen picked up 29 digs to take over 11th all-time in NCAA Division III history in that category and is now just 20 shy of becoming the nine player ever with 3000 digs, and the only such player to ever reach that point playing their entire career in the 25-points per set era. Rachel Reusch had 12 kills and five total blocks while Maddie Bredehoeft delivered 11 kills. Isabelle Crow recorded 39 assists and four aces and Kristin Werdine had 15 digs and three aces. Celestial Barrera-Lopez also chipped in 16 digs.

For Ithaca, Reagan Stone was busy with 23 kills and eight block assists while Alison Lipton and Jennifer Pitts produced 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Caitlin Floyd notched 45 assists and Jordyn Lyn Hayashi recorded 24 digs. Hannah Hughes also had 17 digs.

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