CUA moves onto semifinals with 3-1 win over Royals

WASHINGTON – The CUA volleyball team advanced to the semifinals of the Landmark Conference Tournament with a 3-1 win over sixth-seeded Scranton on Tuesday evening inside DuFour Gymnasium.  CUA won the first two games but fell in the third, only to come back and prevail in the fourth game.

“I don’t think we played our best volleyball tonight,” Cardinals head coach Nagy Abdelrazek said afterwards.  “Give Scranton credit, they played well tonight and gave us everything we could handle.”

He continued, “We certainly didn’t play like last weekend,” in reference to CUA’s performance when winning the Messiah College Tournament.  “We were shaky with our passing and our service returns and I think we were a little too comfortable having already beaten Scranton twice this season.  Scranton came in here with a nothing-to-lose attitude and they were more aggressive.  But we stuck with it and came away with a win and that’s the important thing.”

In the early going of game one, the teams were tied at five but CUA scored two of the next three to take a 7-6 lead.  Later, with Scranton ahead 10-9 the Cardinals scored three of the next five points to go in front 12-11 and force a Royals timeout.

CUA’s lead eventually grew to 17-14, but Scranton stayed with the Cardinals and were able to pull to within one at 20-19.  From there CUA scored four straight to go in front 24-19, and the Cardinals were able to hold off the Royals for a 25-22 win.

CUA jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second game only to see Scranton keep battling and eventually tie things at nine.  CUA rattled off five of the next seven points however, and sat on top 14-11.  That lead grew to 20-16, but again the Royals battled back and made things interesting at 21-19.

CUA then called a timeout and scored three straight to extend its lead to 24-19.  After three straight points by the Royals the Cardinals scored the game-winner to take the second game, 25-22.

Scranton controlled the third game from the beginning, taking an 11-6 lead early on.  CUA was able to hang around and got to within 11-9, but the Royals extended their lead and led 19-15 late in the game.  After Scranton’s lead grew to 22-16 CUA took a timeout and came back with four of the next five points to make it a 23-20 game.  But the Royals added two more scores and took the third game 25-20.

CUA was finally able to shake the pesky Royals with a strong performance in game four.  The Cardinals jumped out to a 6-1 lead and that soon grew to 12-4.  CUA extended to a ten-point lead at 19-9 and that wound up being the final margin of victory as the Cardinals won 25-15 to clinch their 20th win of the season.

Leading CUA with 19 kills and 33 digs was Claudia Jean, while Kristina Purcell added 32 digs and Katie Chefalas totaled 30.  Megan Himler recorded 12 digs and Chefalas totaled nine kills. 

Michaela Carroll led the Cardinals with 33 assists and Kelly Crimmins was the team leader with three blocks.

For Scranton, Juli Woods handed out 18 assists and Jenell McFadden led the visitors with 15 kills.

CUA will now move on to the Landmark Conference Tournament semifinals where the Cardinals will take on the second-seeded Susquehanna Crusaders on Saturday, November 6 on the campus of Juniata.  Match time is slated for 1:30. 

Should CUA win, it will take on the winner of Moravian and Juniata that same day at 7:00.

“We need to play smarter this weekend,” Abdelrazek said.  “When we have momentum on our side, we can’t give it right back.  We need to be aggressive, but smart.  We can’t have unforced errors and simply give the momentum away.”

He continued, “We’re excited about being back in the semifinals.  I like our matchup with Susquehanna; I think we perform better on the road than at home, so we’re looking forward to this weekend.”

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