The Franciscan University of Steubenville volleyball team secured a 3-1 victory over the D’Youville College Spartans on Senior Day, Saturday, Oct. 26 at 1 p.m. in Finnegan Fieldhouse.
Throughout the fierce match, the suspense kept spectators on the edge of their seats until the Lady Barons pulled through for the win. Afterward, the team honored senior defensive specialist Sarah “Smurg” Murgia.
The first set had a slow buildup but quickly became an eventful spectacle for fans. Two initial kills by junior middle hitter Meghan Bayer marked the beginning of the action.
Junior setter Sydney Riley caught the opponents off guard with her serving, and two successful attacks by Bayer propelled the Lady Barons to a 20-13 lead. One final attack error by D’Youville won the Lady Barons the set 25-19.
A kill from sophomore outside hitter Monica Moore kicked off the second set. The two teams fought aggressively for the lead until a decisive attack by sophomore middle hitter Caite O’Malley brought Franciscan ahead. O’Malley would later close the set 25-19 with another kill.
D’Youville acquired a comfortable lead going into the third set. That changed when Moore performed a remarkable streak of service aces, allowing Franciscan to turn the tide.
A defensive dig by freshman defensive specialist Peyton Davidson led to an attack error by D’Youville, tying the set 19-19. However, an unfortunate double hit by the Lady Barons lost Franciscan the set 26-24.
The teams contested closely for the fourth set. Sophomore middle hitter Emma Birong was able to guard the net closely, shutting down D’Youville’s attack efforts. A final attack error by D’Youville won Franciscan the set 25-21.
Soon after, the Lady Barons returned to the court bearing flowers in honor of Murgia, the team’s only senior. The team, which had been wearing “We Love Smurgie” t-shirts before the match, gifted Murgia with notes describing her in one word.
Head coach Kelly Hermann spoke kindly of Murgia, calling her a dedicated team member, always eager to ask questions. Hermann called Murgia and the team “faithful, hardworking women.”
Separately, Hermann said that this game “was not the best match, but the (Lady Barons) powered through it. … I get to coach the most wonderful volleyball team in the world,” said Hermann, thanking the Lady Barons, their parents and all those who help organize the matches.
The Lady Barons will play against La Roche University Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. for their last regular season home match.