The University of Scranton volleyball team has its sights set on its first-ever Landmark Conference championship. In order to achieve that feat, the Royals will have to win twice on the road this week starting with Wednesday night's semifinal match at Juniata.
Scranton (19-16) which last won a conference title in 2005 in the MAC Freedom Conference, is the fourth seed in this fall's postseason tournament and will visit top-seeded and sixth-ranked Juniata (22-3) in a semifinal match on Wednesday. First serve is set for 7 p.m. in Huntingdon, Pa.
The Royals posted a 3-3 mark in Landmark Conference play during the regular season to earn their ninth consecutive trip to the postseason.
The Eagles, who have won the Landmark Conference title all 11 years since the league was formed, went 6-0 against conference opponents this fall and have won 20 consecutive matches.
Wednesday's semifinal match occurs just four days after Scranton and Juniata met on the final day of the regular season with the Eagles defeating the Royals in three sets on Saturday in a tri-match at Catholic.
The Cardinals, who won with set scores of 28-26, 25-21, and 25-18, received 13 kills from sophomore Victoria Taylor (Middletown, Del./Delaware Military Academy) and 11 kills from junior Morgan Edwards (Lancaster, Pa./Penn Manor). Freshman Moira Folan (Pittsburgh, Pa./Oakland Catholic) put up 17 assist while senior Katie Byrne (Annapolis, Md./Broadneck) picked up 17 digs in the win.
Senior Kristin Kirwan (Park Ridge, N.J./Immaculate Heart-Academy) led Scranton with nine kills while fellow senior Megan Monastra (West Chester, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) added eight kills. Sophomore Kindler Norman (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) added a match-high 28 assists to go along with 12 digs in the loss.
Kirwan, the Landmark Conference's all-time kills leader, has floored a conference-leading 433 kills this fall while Monastra has totaled 288 kills to go along with 57 aces, second-most in the conference.
Norman has dished out a team-leading 881 assists this year for Scranton while sophomore Regina Schetroma (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown West) has picked up 522 digs, the third-most in the Landmark Conference.
Senior Catherine Manning (Eastchester, N.Y./Eastchester) leads the Royals at the net with 79 total blocks.
Taylor paces Juniata's attack with 273 kills this season while Edwards has put down 213 kills.
Folan has put up 465 assists, Byrne has a team-leading 375 digs, and junior Dejia Danhi (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) has amassed 104 blocks on the year.
The winner of Wednesday's match will play this victor of Wednesday's other semifinal match between second-seeded Susquehanna and third-seeded Catholic on Saturday for the Landmark Conference championship. Saturday's title match will be played at the site of the highest remaining seed at a time yet to be announced with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
Admission to Wednesday's semifinal match is $7 for adults and $4 for seniors (62 and older) and non-Landmark Conference students. Children ages 10 and under are admitted free of charge, as are all Landmark Conference students, faculty and staff with their school ID.
For fans unable to make the trip to Juniata on Wednesday, live coverage links are available below.