The action never stopped in Finnegan Fieldhouse on Sept. 30, where after five very close sets, the Lady Barons emerged victorious in their match against the Pitt.-Bradford Panthers, by a close 3-2 score.
The Lady Barons held the lead for the majority of the first set, with the Panthers following closely behind. Eventually, the visitors came back and tied the set at 21-21, and pulled ahead just enough for the 26-24 set win.
Sophomore outside hitter and defensive specialist Maddie Raffa began the second set strong, with two beautiful serves, including an ace, putting the Lady Barons up 3-0. The Panthers battled back, and eventually tied the game up at 10-10. This was the only time when the Lady Barons experienced a deficit in the set, as they went on a 12-4 run immediately afterward. The Panthers answered it with a 7-1 run of their own, but it wasn’t quite enough, and the Lady Barons won the set 25-21, leveling the match at one set apiece.
The third set was when competition reached its climax. The Panthers started out with a 4-0 lead, but were swiftly answered by the Lady Barons, putting the game at a tie of 9-9. After this, the lead changed no less than eight times, each side trying to maintain the upper hand. The Panthers finally pulled ahead just enough to take the set 25-23.
Franciscan’s team performed like a well-oiled machine in the fourth set. They began with a blistering 14-5 lead, and didn’t let up for a second. The Panthers answered back with plenty of points of their own, but they never saw a lead, or even a tie. The Lady Barons ended on a kill from freshman setter and defensive specialist Sydney Riley, followed by another from Raffa, sending the match to a decisive fifth set with a 25-20 fourth set win.
Once again in the fifth set, Franciscan held a nearly constant lead. The Panthers had an early kill that tied the set at 4-4. This was quickly answered by a block from senior right side hitter Monica Rigaud, and junior outside hitter Maria Ciola. This moment marked the onset of an 11-5 run, one that took Franciscan straight to the finish line, with a score of 15-9.
Ciola played an excellent game, with 20 kills and 13 digs. Raffa and sophomore right side hitter Meghan Bayer each had 12 kills of their own, while sophomore defensive specialist Maddy Demos had 13 digs, and freshman defensive specialist Lauren Betar contributed 11 digs.
The Lady Barons will not see another home game until Oct. 7 at 2pm, when they will face off against Washington & Jefferson.