Owls Sweep SNHU, Advance To Semifinals
Matt Gad – Contributor
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Owls (19-13), seeded fourth in the NE10 Tournament, defeated No. 5 Southern New Hampshire (10-13) tonight, 3-0, to advance to the conference semifinals for the second straight year.
“We’re feeling really good,” head coach Lisa Barbaro said. “SNHU’s a really good team with a lot of really good players and our goal was to serve tough and aggressive and we’re just really proud of the team.”
Senior Leanna Jadus recorded 13 kills and 11 digs, fellow senior Alyssa Gage had 13 kills and 10 digs and junior Gabriela Vazquez achieved a team-high 14 kills and a .500 hitting percentage.
“Our crowd and having the energy of the Owl House was just awesome,” Jadus said. “We’re playing much more like a team than we did in the beginning of the season — we’re clicking and gelling and our setter-hitter connection is a lot better. We’re just pushing forward.”
The team won the game’s first three sets all in convincing fashion at 25-23, 25-18 and 25-23 again and Vazquez sealed the victory with a service ace, or a ball that sailed into the opponent’s territory untouched.
The win gave the Owls their first home playoff win in six seasons and improved their insane home record to 13-1.
“It’s an unbelievable home record. I can’t be prouder with what we’ve been able to accomplish here,” Barbaro said. “It really helps with the great support we get from our fans and we really hope they come on the road with us Friday.”
In a stunning upset, top-seeded New Haven, which lost one conference game all year, fell in three sets to No. 8 Saint Anselm. With the Chargers’ early exit, the Owls will now play Saint Anselm Friday night at the highest remaining seed currently in the tournament, Adelphi. If they beat Saint Anselm they would take on the Adelphi-American International winner in the NE10 Championship Game Saturday.
“What’s great about our conference is that there’s a lot of really great opponents,” Barbaro said. “Anybody can beat anybody on any given night so UNH is a great team and so are all the other teams in the conference.”
Saint Anselm came to Pelz last Friday and was beaten, 3-0, to start a string of four 3-0 sweeps in a row, dating back to Oct. 29th’s win at New York Tech.
“They’re a tough matchup. They have some really strong hitters and a great offense,” Barbaro said. “We knocked them out of the tournament last year so my expectation is that it’ll be a pretty intense match.”
That game was a five-set thriller, hosted by the Chargers, who were the No. 1 seed last year, too, where the Owls grabbed it, 3-2, in the NE10 Semifinals before they lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to New Haven the following night.
“We had a rough start to the season but we’re finally coming together,” Vazquez said. “We’re taking it one game at a time.
Photo Credit: Matt Gad