Matters, volleyball heading to postseason
The volleyball team is heading to the Big East Championship for the first time since 1994 after they won their regular season finale Sunday at West Virginia 3-1.
The Pirates received some necessary help to clinch the eighth and final seed in the conference tournament.
Seton Hall needed to beat West Virginia and have Villanova lose one game to Marquette to earn the bid.
Seton Hall will face top seeded Notre Dame who is undefeated in Big East play this season. The Pirates fell to the Fighting Irish earlier in the season 3-1.
“We’re very humble about making it. We were ranked 12th in the preseason and no one expected us to be here,” senior Allie Matters said. “I am really excited; it’s been my goal forever to make it here. It feels good to be rewarded for everything especially working so hard.”
Head coach Kris Zeiter thinks all the pressure is on the Fighting Irish.
“Notre Dame has everything to lose and we have nothing to lose,” Zeiter said. “We have an experienced senior class; it won’t be an easy one-eight matchup (No. 1 seed versus No. 8). We played Notre Dame tight earlier in the year and we’re going to put the pressure on them.”
In the West Virginia victory, the Pirates played a strong all around team game highlighted by three players recording double doubles.
Sophomore Meghan Matusiak led the Pirates with 19 kills on a .341 clip while adding 13 digs. Junior Sarah Osmun had 15 kills and 15 digs while freshman Olivia Trudeau handed out 52 assists and 12 digs.
“Olivia has exceeded my expectations, I knew she’d be good but not this good,” Zieter said. “She’s leading the Big East in assists per game as a freshman.”
Seton Hall scored the first four points of the first set and jumped out to an early 14-7 lead after an attack error. The Mountaineers responded with five straight points however the Pirates countered with a 4-0 run of their own making the score 17-13.
West Virginia closed within two points on three occasions but the Pirates would not budge, ending the game on a block by Matusiak and sophomore Krissy Wrobel to win 25-21.
In the second game, West Virginia took an early 10-5 advantage before the Pirates narrowed the score to 12-9. The Mountaineers went on an 8-2 run and clinched the win 25-17.
Seton Hall responded early in the third, taking a 12-6 lead after a Trudeau kill. The Pirates extended their lead to 18-9 on a Matusiak spike and cruised to a 25-16 set victory.
Seton Hall led the fourth set 14-8, after a 6-1 run was capped by an Osmun kill. The Pirates rolled to a 25-13 win to give them the victory.
Earlier in the weekend the Hall lost at Pittsburgh 3-1. They squandered leads in sets two three and four.
The Pirates fell behind 10-4 to start the opening set, and never recovered, dropping the set 25-16.
In the second set Seton Hall held a 22-20 advantage before trading points with the Panthers, making it 25-24. Pittsburgh netted three straight points to win the set 27-25.
The Pirates jumped out to a commanding 14-6 lead in the third set before letting Pittsburgh come back within two points. Seton Hall broke away 22-17 and scored five of the next seven points to earn the 25-20 victory.
The Pirates carried the momentum to the fourth set where they held a 13-4 lead before Pittsburgh ran off eight straight points to bring the game to within a point.
Pittsburgh tied the game at 20-20 before trading points with Seton Hall. Back-to-back blocks by Pittsburgh followed by a ball handling error on Seton Hall gave the Panthers the 26-24 win.
“We were disappointed we couldn’t finish games,” Matters said. “We easily could have won the match.”
Matters posted 29 digs in the match to break the Seton Hall single season dig record, which she set last year. Matters now has 600 digs on the year; her previous mark was 576.
Matters’s performance this weekend earned her a spot on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll. With her play, Matters extended the nation’s longest active double-figure dig streak to 67 consecutive matches.
Colin Rajala can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org