|Carah Vitkus||Kindler Norman|
In the Landmark Conference semifinals for the seventh straight season, the fourth-seeded University of Scranton volleyball team takes on top-seeded Susquehanna on Wednesday evening on the road in Selinsgrove. First serve is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Fans making the trip to Susquehanna for the match are reminded that admission will be charged at the door: $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.
The Royals, who finished the year with a 15-17 overall mark and 3-3 in Landmark Conference play, have been led in the second half of the year on the attack by freshman Carah Vitkus (Mahopac, N.Y./Mahopac), who now leads the team in kills with 311, a 3 per set average for the year. Overall, she has hit double-figures in kills in 14 of the last 16 games for the Royals, as she ended the regular year seventh in the Landmark Conference in total kills.
Setting up the attack all season has been junior Kindler Norman (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair), who has 844 assists for the year (a 7.8 per set average), which is the fourth-best mark in the Landmark. Entering Wednesday's match, Norman has 2,990 career assists and sits 10 away from hitting 3,000 for her career, which would be only the fifth time in program history a student-athlete has hit that mark.
Susquehanna, meanwhile, has put together a banner 2019 season, as they enter the Landmark playoffs the top seed with a 30-5 overall mark and a perfect 6-0 ledger in Landmark play. Ranked 18th in all of NCAA Division III in last week's AVCA Top 25, the Riverhawks nabbed the top spot in the Landmark playoffs with a thrilling 3-2 win at Juniata on Saturday, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to upend the Eagles.
Leading the way all year for the River Hawks has been Rosina Esposito, who has 421 kills, which leads the Landmark Conference entering the playoffs. Susquehanna also boasts one of the top blockers in the conference in Veronica Kirchner, who is second in the league in total blocks with 102.
In their regular season match-up on Oct. 16, the River Hawks made quick work of the Royals inside the John Long Center, taking a 3-0 decision from Scranton. Esposito led the Susquehanna attack in the win with 11 kills, while Scranton was led in a losing effort by Vitkus and junior Jillian Graham (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh) who had 10 kills, apiece.
The other Landmark Conference semifinal match-up on Wednesday pits second-seeded Juniata against third-seeded Elizabethtown. The winners of both games will head to Saturday's Landmark Conference championship match with an automatic bid into the 2019 NCAA Division III Championship at stake.
For more on the 2019 Landmark Conference volleyball championship, click here.