VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The eighth-seeded Penn State Brandywine volleyball team saw its 19-match winning streak come to an end on Thursday at the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Volleyball Tournament as the Lions dropped matches in straight sets to top-seeded Florida National University and No. 4 Illinois Tech.
Brandywine (25-4) hung tough with the top team in the tournament during its opening match, narrowing a seven-point deficit to just one during the opening set. The Conquistadors opened up a 12-5 lead before the Lions battled back to within one following kills by Margot Gargus (Downingtown, Pa./Dowiningtown East) and Nicolette Napoleon (Springfield, Pa./Penn Charter) and a pair of aces from Nikki Poissant (Aston, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) and Becca Civera (Boothwyn, Pa./Chichester).
Brandywine trailed 13-12; however, Florida National responded by scoring 12 of the final 13 points of the set to secure a 1-0 lead.
FNU opened up a 10-1 lead and pushed the advantage as large as 17 points before claiming a 25-10 triumph and winning the match 2-0.
Gargus tallied a pair of kills and six digs, while Poissant collected three digs. Sullivan Stark (Middletown, Del./William Penn) handed out three assists and Lauren Kelly (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown East) recorded two helpers.
Brandywine again found itself trailing in the first set against Illinois Tech, this time 19-7. The Lions mounted a comeback as four kills by Napoleon and two aces from Stark helped Brandywine climb within five at 21-16. After an Illinois Tech point, two-straight Scarlet Hawk errors sliced the Lions' deficit to 22-18; however, Brandywine could not get closer and fell behind 1-0 after Illinois Tech claimed a 25-18 triumph.
Down 16-9 in the second set, Brandywine used a 5-0 run to get within two as Stark spurred the surge with three aces. Illinois Tech collected the next three points and then pulled away with five of the final seven points to clinch a 25-17 victory and a sweep.
Napoleon recorded five kills, while Poissant and Gargus each tallied three and Hannah Sarafinas (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown West) registered two. Poissant's trio of kills pushed her past 900 for her career.
Stark produced 12 assists, five aces and four digs, while Gargus topped the team with six digs.
Brandywine has two more pool play matches on Friday, needing at least one victory to advance to the national quarterfinals. The Lions face No. 9 Maine-Fort Kent at 9:30 am and No. 5 Carlow at 2:00 pm.