Today: Jun 16, 2024

Enright and Miller push Owls past Purple Knights

Dillion Flanigan – Contributor

The Owls claimed victory as they defeated Saint Michael’s College 3-2 in a five-set, gritty in-conference NE10 clash, extending their win streak to three games. 

The Owls took their home court at Pelz Gymnasium after a week of practice facing Saint Michael’s Purple Knights of Colchester, Vermont. They won the sets 25-17, 25-16, 25-16, 25-18 and 15-12. 

“I think we showed a lot of heart out there. We won the first two sets, and then we started to get down but really wanted to win, and we came back,” said setter Lily Miller, a junior. 

In the first set, outside hitter Sofia Suarez-Ramos, a sophomore, put the first point on the board for both teams and was quickly followed up with another score by fellow teammate and outside hitter Ahunna James, a freshman.  

With an early lead, the Owls maintained control and ultimately won the set. The second was no different, with Sara Enright, a senior, and Carissa Michel and Sarah Stark, freshmen, making up the scoring effort, the university continued to command the court taking a 2-0 set lead. 

“It is important to be the first team to score. It shows the momentum in a game. It definitely helps. It is really hard to fight and come back if you are behind a few points,” said Assistant Coach Abigail Epstein. 

Facing an easy defeat, Saint Michael’s took an early lead and never looked back to remain alive for at least another set. In the fourth set, it was back and forth with the most tie scores, but Saint Michael’s pulled away, tying the set lead at 2-2. 

“We had a little bit of a late start. We got here too late, and so I do not think our warmups were as developed as we could have. So, we just kicked it into gear a little bit later than I expected,” Saint Michael’s first-year Head Coach, Lauren Brough, said. 

In the second five-set game, the Owls maintained a two-point advantage until the Purple Knights knotted it up at eight apiece. Saint Michael’s took a brief 9-8 lead, but with resolve, the university battled back. With an assist from Miller, Enright scored the winning set point, clinching the victory for the Owls. 

“I think we really came together, and the third set we were kind of playing different games and getting in our heads. But in the end, I think we realized that we’re all playing for the same team, and we helped each other out to get the win,” said Miller. 

In the third and fourth sets, the Owls played inconsistently. “The turning point in the game was realizing it is all mental. We try to create game-like situations, but they focus on their own game,” said Volunteer Coach Gabriela Vazquez. 

 “The team still fought through to come back and win again,” said Epstein. 

Enright led the game with five, adding to her team total with 50 on the season. She also led her squad with 14 kills on 43 attempts. Just to add to her incredible night, Enright also led the team in points with 19. Unfortunately, she was unavailable for a post-game interview. 

“It takes the whole group to keep it positive. They are two key players on the court and just came together to just get this win,” Epstein said. 

James totaled eight kills, two solo blocks and two aces, while Michel led the team in solo blocks with three and added an assist and 11 kills. Aubrey Villena, a sophomore, had two assists of her own, but none came close to Miller’s contribution. 

Miller set up the game winner and delivered arguably her best performance of the season as she recorded her single-game high in assists with 38, pushing her team lead to 424 this season.  

“Performance-wise, I just want to give my team my best. That’s all I can really do. But strategy, I think I just really try to pull the team together as much as possible. This team is truly like a tight-knit group, and we love to play for each other,” said Miller. 

The Owls look to continue the momentum from last weekend’s victories with the hope of ending the last two regular season games strong.  

“Our first win last weekend against Goldey-Beacom got us really fired up and showed ourselves that we can really win a game if we put our minds to it,” said Miller. 

These wins extend the success streak to three in a row, one shy of the season high. It also extended the series win streak to seven in a row versus Saint Michael’s, and in the last 15 contests, the Owls lead the series 12-3. 

Even with the victory and one more game still to play, it is all but certain the Owls will finish with more losses than wins. They still improved overall to 14-16 and an in-conference record of 2-8.  

 “We are looking to end on a high note. We had some challenges we had to overcome this season that we were able to, and the girls have been able to come together and play, and I will tell them tomorrow to leave it all out on the court,” said Epstein. 

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