Today: Mar 01, 2024

After 5 close sets, the Owls lose to the Chargers

Sean Meenaghan — Photo Editor
Megan Lyons, senior captain serving

PAT LONGOBARDISports Writer 

In front of a packed Pelz Gymnasium, this battle of inter-city rivals had a championship feel, and maybe showed the pre-season favorite how far they need to go to win the Northeast-10 Conference.

     University of New Haven came back from one set down to defeat SCSU volleyball, 3-2 (25-20, 19-25, 26-28, 25-23, 15-8), in a game between two hot teams.

     UNH (7-4, 3-0 NE-10) continued a seven-game winning streak after starting the season 0-4. Southern (9-4, 2-2) snapped a four-game winning streak. Southern has lost three of their last four meetings, dating back to 2009. The Owls were swept convincingly, 3-0, last October at Charger Gymnasium.

     “We came out really hard,” SCSU sophomore Lauren McVey said. “We showed (tonight) how well we can compete with a team like that.”

     “Everybody went after it,” UNH head coach Robin Salters said. “We showed a lot of heart. I just wish we started faster.”

     There were big plays and rallies. Every point was critical as each team showed their strengths.    

     In the first set, Southern went on a 7-0 run to grab a 15-11 lead, forcing a UNH timeout. A 10-1 run then put UNH ahead, 21-16. Kimberly Lachowicz brought Southern within 23-20 after a big kill, unassisted, following an attack by Kristy Atufunwa. But UNH pulled out the last two points.

     Southern quickly jumped out in the second set to lead 11-5. Clinging to a 16-14 lead, McVey gave the Owls breathing room, scoring the next three points with a block and two kills. Southern would shut the door, scoring the final three points, ending with a kill by Megan Hiss.

     “After game one, I think we picked each other up,” McVey said. “It was full of hits on the floor and good defense on both sides.” 

     The third set carried the most momentum and energy of the game. Southern went on a 6-0 run to lead 11-3. As part of a 10-1 run by UNH cutting the lead to 22-19, Keidy Candelaria had a kill, unassisted, in a long rally after an attack by Megan Lyons. Vanessa Sullivan chased down a long dig to keep the point alive.

     UNH grabbed a 25-24 lead with a block by Amber Cannady on Syriah Celestine’s attack, forcing a Southern timeout. Southern then applied pressured, scoring four of the last five points, capped off with a block by Sarah Beres on Candelaria’s attack.

     Both teams started the fourth set on runs. UNH went on a 4-0 run to lead 10-6. With UNH leading 23-19, McVey brought Southern within one with a kill during a long rally. McVey saved the set with another kill, trailing 24-22. UNH won the set after a big call after Candelaria’s kill, that looked to be heading out, was apparently touched by Southern.   

     In the final set, UNH went to work on Southern, getting some errors and service aces to grab a 9-4 lead with a 5-0 run. UNH then played defensive to put the match away.

     “It was not our best game,” Salters said. “Southern was physical. But, we did what we needed to have done.”

     UNH led Southern in blocks, 26-19. UNH led 203-201 on attacks, and 60-53 on kills.

     UNH had three players with double-doubles. Candelaria led the team with 20 kills and 17 digs. Cannady had 10 kills and 13 blocks. Chelsey Alpough had 47 assists and 19 digs.

     Southern also had three players with double-doubles. McVey led the team with 16 kills and 16 digs. Hiss had 14 kills, 19 digs and four blocks. Lachowicz had 47 assists and 18 digs.

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