The Shippensburg University volleyball team will host the 2023 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Semifinals and Championship match this weekend at Heiges Field House, with the Raiders taking on West No. 2 seed Clarion at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the second of two semifinals.
The winner will face either West No. 1 seed Gannon or East No. 2 seed East Stroudsburg at 7 p.m. Saturday in the PSAC title game.
Shippensburg (23-8), the PSAC Eastern Division champion, is in the PSAC Tournament for the 15th time in 19 seasons under head coach Leanne Piscotty. The Raiders are making their 10th PSAC Semifinals appearance under Piscotty, and it is the first time in 10 years that SU is hosting the PSAC Volleyball Final Four.
Clarion (24-5), the 2022 PSAC Championship runner-up, is currently ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Atlantic Region rankings (Gannon is No. 1). The Golden Eagles are in the PSAC Semifinals for the third consecutive season and are hoping to claim their fourth blue trophy.
Freshman of the Year vs. Athlete of the Year
For Shippensburg, freshman Gracen Nutt (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg Area) was named the PSAC Eastern Division Freshman of the Year as a part of four Raiders to claim All-PSAC laurels. Nutt enters the PSAC Final Four ranked eighth in the conference with 319 kills – an average of 2.9 kills per set. She has compiled an efficient hitting percentage of .211 and has totaled 28 aces, 141 digs and 21 blocks.
For Clarion, Cassidy Snyder earned the PSAC Western Division Athlete of the Year honor, becoming the fifth Golden Eagle to ever earn the award. Snider, a three-time First Team All-PSAC West performer, enters the PSAC Final Four ranked fifth in the nation with a PSAC-best average of 4.7 kills per set. Her 494 total kills rank fourth in the nation. With six more kills, Snider would become the sixth Golden Eagle to notch 500 kills in a season and the first since the 2008 season when sets were switched to the modern structure of 25 points.
Two-time All-PSAC sophomore setter Kearstin Davis (San Antonio, Tex./Reagan) is a 2023 First Team performer and enters Friday ranked third in the PSAC with 9.81 assists per set. Her 1,109 total assists rank second in the league. Davis not only leads the team in assists but also in digs – her 324 digs constitute an average of 2.87 digs per set. Davis has produced 30 or more assists in 24-of-31 matches and double-digit digs in 17 matches.
AVCA All-American senior setter London Fuller, the 2022 PSAC West Athlete of the Year and a two-time All-PSAC First Team honoree, leads the PSAC and ranks 10th in the nation with an average of 11.09 assists per set. Her direction has set the Golden Eagles atop the PSAC in team kills (13.64 kills/set) and attack percentage (3rd – .224). Fuller enters this weekend with 3,834 career assists and has averaged 11.03 assists per in her three years as a starter. Fuller has also recorded 66 kills and 60 blocks this season.
Other All-PSAC Honorees
The Raiders also boast All-PSAC First Team senior middle Kaitlyn Townsend (Johnstown, Pa./Richland) and Second Team junior right side and middle Maddie Clabaugh (Gettysburg, Pa./Delone Catholic). Townsend has broken through this season with career highs of 232 kills and 97 total blocks; she ranks among the PSAC’s Top 10 blockers this season, averaging nearly one block per set. Clabaugh is the second-leading Raider in kills with a career-high of 268, and she contributed 37 total aces to the strongest serving team in the conference.
For the Golden Eagles, senior libero Abigail Selfridge earned All-PSAC Second Team recognition. Selfridge ranks just outside the Top 10 in PSAC in digs, averaging 3.94 digs per set. She also leads the team and ranks seventh in the PSAC with an average of 0.47 aces per set. Her 49 aces rank fourth in the conference.
The two teams faced off this season in the first week of the season, which now seems like it was an eternity ago. On Sept. 1, Clarion swept the Raiders at its season-opening Tony Banner Memorial Volleyball Tournament by set scores of 25-18, 25-11 and 25-15. SU hit a season-low .021 in that match, with Davis only managing 11 assists and the team finishing with a season-low 21 total kills. The Raiders have accrued significant experience and have displayed exponential growth since that first matchup and are motivated to put forth a strong showing in Friday’s rematch.
Shippensburg is facing Clarion in the PSAC Tournament for the first time since the 2019 PSAC Quarterfinals, which was a 3-0 victory for the Raiders. It is the fourth time that coaches Piscotty (20th season, 426 career wins) and Jen Herron (17th season, 389 career wins) will have their teams face each other in the PSAC Tournament, including the 2015 PSAC Championship match (SU’s only PSAC title) and the 2007 semifinals (3-1 Clarion at Heiges Field House).