Heeter Helps Propel Clarion to 3-0 Win Over Lock Haven in NCAA Tourney

| November 29, 2012

WHEELING, W. Va. – Hannah Heeter, Carlie Bieranowski and Emily Stewart combined for 32 kills and 18 digs to lead the Clarion University women’s volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-23) win over Lock Haven in the opening round of the NCAA Division II playoffs (Atlantic Region) Thursday at Wheeling Jesuit.

“It’s a big confidence boast,” Clarion head coach Jennifer Mills said. “The players were ready to play, and they had fun. It was an exciting match. Lock Haven played hard and wouldn’t go away.”

Fourth-seeded Clarion (24-11), the 2010 Atlantic Region champion, avenged a first-round loss in last year’s Atlantic Region to Lock Haven and will face the winner of the eight-seeded Fayetteville St. vs. top-seeded Wheeling Jesuit match in the regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Wheeling.

Going into Thursday’s match with fifth-seeded Lock Haven (26-11), Mills believed Clarion’s best chance at winning was to get production from all of her outside hitters, and she got that with Heeter leading Clarion with 12 kills while adding three digs and four blocks while hitting .360 (12 kills, 3 errors, 25 attempts) for the match. Bieranowski also hit over .300 (10-2-26) while adding eight digs and Stewart had 10 kills and seven digs.

“We used a couple of different drills in practice this week, and I think some of those things sunk in,” Mills said. “We put a lot more balls in play to get them out of their system.”

Laura Subject was solid in running the offense with 36 set assists on Clarion’s 46 kills while Corinne Manley had five kills and five blocks and Rebecca Webb five kills and three blocks.

Clarion’s defense also limited Lock Haven’s hitting holding the Lady Eagles to .140 for the match (37-21-114). Lock Haven came in ranked third in the PSAC with a .241 hitting percentage.

The Golden Eagles were able to limit the Lock Haven offense with eight blocks and 52 digs with Rebecca Ferragonio leading the way with 19 digs.

“Our blocking went well and we made some adjustments on defense to pick up the short stuff,” Mills said. “The players really did well with the changes we made, and I believe the players did a really good job of preparing themselves. We had them do scouting reports on their own, and I think that made them more prepared tonight.”

Gao Xuan led Lock Haven with 18 kills and 10 digs with Alex Garrity adding 31 set assists and Erin Walsh 19 digs.

While Clarion won in three sets, all three were tightly contested affairs.

In the first set, the Golden Eagles flew out to an 8-2 lead and still led 17-10 before Lock Haven fought back and knotted the set at 19-all. The Lady Eagles then took a 21-20 lead before the set was tied at 21 and 23. Clarion scored the final two points of the set on kills by Biernowski and Heeter to get the victory.

The second set saw Lock Haven with an early 8-5 lead before Clarion tied the match at eight. The match was then tied at nine, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 before a 4-0 Golden Eagle spurt paced by two Stewart kills put them ahead 18-14. Stewart eventually finished the set with a kill to give Clarion the 2-0 lead.

In the third set, it was all Clarion early with the Golden Eagles racing to a 16-7 lead thanks to four kills from Heeter and two each from Webb and Stewart.

Lock Haven wouldn’t go away, though, rallying to within two, 19-17, before three Bieranowski kills helped put Clarion up 24-19.

The Lady Eagles, however, fought back closing to within a point, 24-23, before a Bieranowski kill sealed the set and the match.

NOTES – Clarion beat Lock Haven 3-2 Oct. 5 at Clarion … It was the first time Clarion has beaten Lock Haven in postseason play. The teams had met four previous times in postseason play (3 in the PSAC playoffs) before Thursday.

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