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SVSU finishes perfect weekend at Clarion, Vukaj named MVP

SVSU finishes perfect weekend at Clarion, Vukaj named MVP

CLARION, Penn.- The Saginaw Valley State University volleyball team earned two victories at the Clarion University Tournament on Saturday. SVSU defeated the University of New Haven in their first game of the day, and later host Clarion University to close out the tournament with a perfect 4-0 record to start the season. 

In the first match, the Cardinals dropped the first set to New Haven 25-17. SVSU responded by winning the next three sets to earn the victory. The final three sets all ended with a 25-22 score. Maria Vukaj had 19 kills for the Cardinals along with 18 digs while Madison Thompson picked up 15 kills. Peyton Gerstacker led SVSU with 46 assists, while Caitlinn Pistro had 29 digs.

"We started a bit slow again, and had to get into the match late," SVSU Head Coach Will Stanton said. "Their serving was very tough, and it took us a while to catch up with it. Our attackers did a good job, especially on the left side. And our serving got tougher as the match went on."

The second match of the day against host Clarion also resulted in a 3-1 SVSU victory. The Cardinals earned the win in set one 25-23, before Clarion responded by winning set two 25-15. SVSU took the final two sets over the Golden Eagles with scores of 25-21, 25-20. Vukaj led the Cardinals in kills again with 12, while Thompson had eight. Four Cardinals had double-digit dig totals. Gerstacker and Vukaj both finished with 19, while Pistro had 15, and Kelsey Vittitow had 12. Gerstacker was also the leader in the assists with 25.

"They served us pretty tough, and we spent a lot of time with our offense off the net," Stanton said about the match with Clarion. "But our hitters did a good job of making those situations productive. Our defense and blocking both made some crucial plays at big moments and that helped with our momentum."

At the end of the tournament, three Cardinals were named to the All-Tournament team, with Maria Vukaj taking home MVP honors. Peyton Gerstacker and Madison Thompson were also honored for their efforts over the weekend. 

SVSU heads to Malone University next weekend for a tournament. The Cardinals begin on Friday at 2:30 p.m. against Malone.