Gannon Volleyball Advances to First Elite Eight Since 1993

Lady Knights beat Wheeling Jesuit in straight sets at Atlantic Regional Final

WHEELING, WV. - The Gannon women's volleyball team stunned No. 24 Wheeling Jesuit with a 3-0 sweep Saturday night in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional championship match, advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time since 1993. The Lady Knights ended Wheeling Jesuit's streak of 26 consecutive set wins in NCAA Atlantic Regional play dating back to 2014. The Cardinals had won 20 straight NCAA Atlantic Regional matches overall dating back to 2010 while winning six consecutive regional titles.

 

  • Gannon showed its strength early, snapping a 2-2 tie in the first set with an 8-2 run. Senior Kelsey Ansec (Solon, Ohio/Solon) and freshman Ashley Kerestes (Loves Park, Ill./Rockford Lutheran) had two kills each during the blitz that gave the visitors a 10-4 lead.
  • Wheeling Jesuit cut the deficit to three on two occasions, including the final time at 14-11.
  • Gannon responded with five straight points to take control 19-11 and force the Cardinals to call time-out. Sophomore Ally Smith (Penfield, N.Y./Webster Schroeder)finished two attacks for points, before another Kerestes kill gave the Lady Knights an eight-point advantage.
  • Wheeling Jesuit climbed back within 23-20, but Gannon countered with consecutive blocks to secure a 25-20 victory in the first set.
  • The two teams were even through the early portion of the second set, before Gannon pulled away at a steady pace. Leading 6-5, the Lady Knights scored three straight points.
  • Holding a 12-8 advantage, Gannon ripped off another mini 4-0 run. Kills from redshirt senior Rebekah Smith (Churchville, N.Y./Churchville-Chili) and Ally Smith (Penfield, N.Y./Webster Schroeder) combined with a pair of Wheeling Jesuit hitting errors helped double the difference at 16-8.
  • The Cardinals were never able to get closer than six points the rest of the way, before the Lady Knights posted a convincing 25-14 win in set two.
  • Gannon remained hot at the onset of the third set, winning the first three points.
  • Wheeling Jesuit fought back to create ties at five, six and eight.
  • The Cardinals manufactured a 4-1 run to assume their first sizable lead of the evening at 12-9.
  • Wheeling Jesuit still held a three-point lead at 15-12 when Gannon caught fire again. Two kills by Rebekah Smith (Churchville, N.Y./Churchville-Chili) and two Cardinal hitting errors pushed the Lady Knights back in front 16-15.
  • Tied at 16, Gannon dominated the remainder of the set while winning nine of the final 10 points. The tie was initially broken with a 7-0 blitz, highlighted by four Ally Smith (Penfield, N.Y./Webster Schroeder) kills.
  • Moments later, Kerestes finished back-to-back kills to clinch a 25-17 win in set three and 3-0 sweep of Wheeling Jesuit.


GAME NOTES

  • Gannon out-hit Wheeling Jesuit in every set, finishing with a .263-.048 overall edge.
  • The Lady Knights held advantages in kills (43-34), assists (41-34) and blocks (10-7).
  • Wheeling Jesuit countered with a 56-52 edge in digs.
  • The two teams combined to record only three service aces.
  • Ally Smith (Penfield, N.Y./Webster Schroeder) was the only Lady Knight with double-digit kills, producing 13 compared to only three errors in 32 attacks. The result was a .312 hitting percentage.
  • Freshman Ashley Beyers (Lanark, Ill./Eastland) dished out 36 of Gannon's 41 assists. She recorded her fourth consecutive double-double and sixth overall with 10 digs.
  • Sophomore Toni Leitshuh (Manhattan, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) topped all Lady Knights with 11 digs.
  • Kerestes had a team-high seven blocks and six kills.
  • The championship match featured nine ties and three lead changes.

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