Volleyball finishes with record NCAA performance

Carnegie Mellon volleyball came away with its first NCAA tournament win Thursday against Mount Lebanon Valley College, 3–0. However, the Tartans’ next opponent, top-ranked Juniata College, knocked Carnegie Mellon out of the tournament 3–0.

Against Mount Lebanon Valley, the Tartans won by scores of 25–18, 25–18, and 26–24, and were once again led by sophomore Aislinn McCloskey, who recorded 10 kills and had an outstanding .500 as her hitting percentage. Junior Jess Brackin added seven kills and junior setter Samantha Carter recorded 33 assists. On the defensive end, the Tartans were led by senior Chisom Amaechi who tallied seven blocks, three solo. Sophomore libero Cameron Griffin added 15 digs and junior Megan Killeen tallied eight in the win.

The Tartans played with composure, but there were some pregame butterflies for the NCAA game.

“We felt a little [pressure]; we knew we deserved to be there but we also knew we had to prove to the non-believers that we deserved it, and after this weekend, I think we did,” Amaechi said. “Hopefully, our appearance and success in the NCAA tournament will finally give the Carnegie Mellon volleyball program the reputation it deserves.”

After defeating Lebanon Valley College, the Tartans faced Juniata Saturday. The team came out strong but could not hold off the nation’s top team and fell 3–0 with scores of 26–24, 25–15, and 25–11. In the match, sophomore Caroline Size recorded 10 kills, followed by McCloskey with nine. Carter totaled 25 assists and added two kills of her own. Defensively, Griffin and Killeen led the Tartans with 10 and nine digs, respectively.

The Tartans were happy with their performance this season, and Amaechi attributes their success to their team’s strong chemistry.

“I feel we did so well because we’re a really close team on and off the court, and at the beginning of the season, we decided on specific team goals and committed to obtaining those goals as a team, together,” Amaechi said.

“We stuck together especially during our ‘forming’ phase and as a team set higher standards for each other so we could reach our maximum level of skill and competitiveness. Because of our resilience and perseverance, love for the game and each other, trust in our coaches and each other, and common goals, we were able to have a successful and memorable season.”

The Tartans finished the season 23–16, while Juniata is scheduled to play in the semi-finals this Friday.