Iona falls to No. 12 Pittsburgh in NCAA Tournament

Ryan McFadden, Sports Editor

The Iona College volleyball team’s historic season came to an end on Nov. 30 when the Gaels were swept by 12th-seeded Pittsburgh in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Senior Claire Archibald finished with 12 kills and three digs, while junior Tess Connolly contributed six kills and 12 digs. Senior Emma Rose had 26 assists, while junior Jessica Paolucci chipped in seven digs.

Iona went toe-to-toe with the Panthers in the first set, which featured 17 ties and six lead changes. The Gaels were up 24-23 with a chance to win the set; however, Pittsburgh’s Nika Markovic delivered the tying kill, and Pittsburgh took the win. Markovic finished the match with 16 kills.

Pittsburgh dominated for the greater part of the second set, taking a 21-13 lead. Iona went on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 21-18, but the Panthers went on a scoring run of their own and took the second set.

Iona had a .056 hitting percentage in the 25-15 loss to Pittsburgh in the third set. It was the Gaels’ lowest hitting percentage of the entire match. Archibald tallied three kills, which was the most for the team in the third set.

Pittsburgh was solid defensively, keeping Iona to a .098 hitting percentage overall for the entire match, which is the Gaels’ lowest hitting percentage in a match this season. Iona also had a season-low assists (33) and digs (32) total.

This was the second time in school history Iona both went to the NCAA Tournament and lost in the opening round. The Gaels fell to Nebraska in the NCAA Tournament back in 2004.

This season, Iona earned its first 20-win season since 2010, when the Gaels went 20-11 and 12-6 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.