BY ANTHONY MITCHELL, SPORTS EDITOR
It was only fitting that Emily Carson would play a pivotal role in a Crusaders’ win on senior night.
After all, the senior outside hitter has been a key piece of the Crusaders (16-17 overall) offense for four years, starting since she was a freshman.
Against Penn State-Altoona, Carson ended the match with 11 kills, a game-high, to pace the Crusaders in a 3-0 shutout of the Lions. The Crusaders grabbed a tight first set 25-21, before expanding their advantage with 25-17 and 25-14 sets.
“The win on senior night was huge,” head coach John Tom said. “Being at home with the crowd we had that night, [the players] were extremely motivated.”
Carson echoed the thoughts of her coach.
“Senior night was great,” Carson said. “It is always nice to win at home, especially on a special occasion.”
The game from Carson continued a trend that Crusaders fans have become familiar with as Carson has been an offensive playmaker on court.
“Emily is something special,” Tom said. “She is a rare athlete. She can play any position on the court that she wants. There are few players that have that ability.”
Carson currently sits in fourth place in Susquehanna history in kills, 16 away from a tie for third place.
However, a successful team needs players to block opposing kill attempts and set up shots of their own.
This is where senior middle hitter Kaylee Monga has had a large impact for the team.
Monga contributed four kills to the Crusaders victory but also added a block assist in the win.
With the block assist, Monga added to her growing record total for both career and single-season block assists.
Monga is currently ranked eighth nationally in Division III in blocks with 1.31 blocks per set.
As a team, the Crusaders are second in the nation with 2.75 per set, trailing only Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
“She is exemplary in what a volleyball player should be,” Tom said.
Julia Caruso played a significant role in the win as the main catalyst for the Crusaders in their offensive attack.
The sophomore setter produced a game-high 28 assists, giving Carson and the rest of the Crusaders clean passes throughout the match.
This season, Caruso has provided clean sets time and time again to help fuel the offensive attack.
“Julia is doing well as a sophomore,” Tom said. “She’s the quarterback of the team. If she’s not on top of her game, there is no Emily Carson, there is no Kaylee Monga.”
There may also be no breakout hitters if it were not for senior defensive specialist Dana Kreutzer.
Kreutzer routinely corrals and controls balls spiked at or near her from a short distance to help the offense.
Senior right side hitter Kristin Shanabrook is an example of the dedication that athletes need to succeed, even if they may not see the same action as some other players.
Shanabrook has found her niche in her final season, with 55 kills and 36 blocks, helping to both end points and keep balls alive.
Also contributing for Susquehanna in the shutout win were freshmen Sarah Paluck, who recorded 12 digs and Morgan Whiteman, who posted a double-digit dig performance with 10.
The Crusaders will travel to Texas to face Hardin-Simmons and Southwestern (Texas) on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.