Eshleman engineers offense for PSAC champion Vulcans
Greencastle-Antrim alumnus Kortney Eshleman has played a role in the success of the California University of Pennsylvania volleyball team that recently its fifth Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship in the last seven years.
The Vulcans captured the title by posting a 3-1 win (26-24, 25-22, 19-25, 25-22) over Loch Haven at Thomas Fieldhouse. With the win, the team improves to 31-4 this season and earns the league's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. The Vulcans entered the weekend as the top seed in the Atlantic Region and clinched a eventh-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Cal U hosted the regional.
The Vulcans took the regional by storm, forging into the finals before the season ended in the championship. Cal U took on Wheeling Jesuit in the finals, falling 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 21-25, 19-25).
With the loss, the Vulcans finished the season at 33-5 overall under first-year head coach Peter Letourneau. Cal U, who has played in six-straight regional championships, entered the night on a 13-match winning streak and boasted a perfect 15-0 mark at home this season.
Seniors Kortney Eshleman posted 11 digs. Eshleman recorded her fourth assist/dig double-double of the year after collecting 25 assists on Saturday.
In the second set, the score was tied at 3-3 before the Vulcans posted four-unanswered points with Eshleman serving to take a 7-3 lead. In the fourth set, Cal U took control early behind a 6-0 run with Eshleman serving to take a 9-4 lead.
The Vulcans swept Edinboro 3-0 (25-10, 25-17, 25-17) in the second round of the tourney. Eshleman had 11 assists in the effort.
In the opening round, the Vulcans swept Saint Augustine's (N.C.) 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-11). Sophomore Abbey Freund and Eshleman combined to direct the offense with 31 assists. In the second set, with the score tied at 13-13, the Vulcans closed the set on a decisive 12-3 run with Eshleman serving the last seven points, including three service aces.
A day before the finals Cal U rallied to a 3-2 victory over defending-PSAC Champion Clarion after dropping the first two games and in the a 3-1 victory (25-20, 25-16, 23-25, 25-22) over West Chester on Friday evening in the semifinals of the league tournament where senior setter Eshleman registered her third double-double of the season after collecting a season-high 45 assists and 11 digs in that match.
Eshlemen and Freund controlled the Cal U offense in the finals by combining for 39 assists.
On Sunday night, Cal received the top seed and hosting rights for the three-day, eight-team NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament on Nov. 17-19.
The Vulcans had extended their winning streak to nine matches earlier with a 3-0 sweep (25-18, 25-16, 25-20) against Gannon in the quarterfinals. Eshleman contributed 16 sets and eight digs against Gannon in the sweep.
Cal ended the regular season strongly with a 3-2 victory (25-13, 25-18, 17-25, 18-25, 15-13) against Clarion in PSAC play that made the season record at 28-4 overall and 17-2 in league action. Eshleman had 24 assists in the win.
The Vulcans had clinched first place in the PSAC West with a 3-0 win (25-16, 25-10, 25-23) over Slippery Rock. The Vulcans have won the PSAC West title four times in the last five years (2007-09, 2011). Eshleman directed the offensive attack with 12 assists. She also recorded her second double-double of the season after tallying 13 digs.
In late season matches, Echleman engineered the offense with 20 assists in a 3-2 victory (25-18, 25-19, 23-25, 14-25, 15-11) against Gannon. She added 20 assists against Mercyhurst as the Vulcans took sole possession of first place in the PSAC West standings by posting a 3-1 win (25-14, 25-22, 21-25, 25-22) over Mercyhurst. She also chalked up 19 assists in a 3-0 win (26-24, 25-22, 26-24) over Edinboro and a night earlier had 10 assists and eight digs in a 3-0 sweep (25-14, 25-19, 25-18) over IUP.