The women's volleyball team took a 2-0 lead but eventually fell 3-2 to Rutgers Saturday night at the Long Beach State Baden Classic. Ashlyn Trimble (Temecula, CA) posted a team high 16 kills while junior Maile Hetherington (Thousand Oaks, CA) added 15 kills of her own. The Pioneers finish action at the Long Beach State Baden Classic without a win but posted strong performances against top tier competition.
Sacred Heart (0-3) got a strong outing from sophomore Megan Pulone (Diamond Bar, CA) in her first collegiate start. The 5-8 setter posted 11 assists in the Pioneers 25-23 opening set win against the Scarlet Knights and 45 total assists in the match. SHU played from in front most of the game but were not able to pull away in a tight contest. A kill from Hethertington gave SHU a game point at 24-22. The Scarlet Knights took the next point and called timeout. The Pioneers came out of the break and ended the set immediately on an Trimble kill.
Rutgers (1-2) traded points with the Pioneers throughout the start of the second game until Elise Sage (Greenwood Village, CO) dropped in an ace to make it 17-15, SHU. But the Scarlet Knight's responded to the ace running off four consecutive points and forcing Sacred Heart head coach Rob Machan to call a time out. The Pioneers answered back with four straight kills and retook the lead at 21-19. Rutgers was able to save one set point at 24-23 on a kill from Kylie Orr. But a Scarlet Knight error on the next play would give the Pioneers another chance. SHU finished the game on a kill from Sage to earn the 26-24 victory and push ahead 2-0 overall. Pulone finished the set with 12 assists and two kills while the Pioneers finished the game with a .245 hitting percentage.
SHU jumped out to an early 6-3 lead in the third game but Rutgers came roaring back and took an 11-8 advantage. The Pioneers again responded to knot the game at 11-11, this time with back-to-back kills from Hetherington and Trimble followed by a block from Johanna Ovsenek (London, Ontario) and Hetherington. Shortly later, the Scarlet Knights won four straight points and gained a 19-17 edge, forcing Machan to use a timeout. SHU again came storming out of the break for three consecutive points and retook the lead. But Rutgers would have the last streak of the game and came out on top 25-22 to bring the match to 2-1, SHU.
The Pioneers struggled at the start of the fourth game as they fell behind 10-5, picking up all of their points on Scarlet Knight miscues. Sacred Heart kicked it into high gear at the 14-8 mark and exploded for 10 straight points. The run included two service aces from Jessica Colberg (Long Beach, CA) and a pair of blocks from the SHU defense. Rutgers challenged the Pioneers late and tied the game at 21-21 on a kill from Alex Jones. Three straight Scarlet Knight kills and a service ace would end the set 25-22 and force a fifth and deciding game.
A quick Rutgers surge of five straight points put the Scarlet Knights up 8-4 in the fifth set. The Pioneers got to within two at 10-8 after another Trimble kill but SHU would be unable to completely close the gap. The Scarlet Knights put the match away 15-10 in the fifth game with a kill from Hannah Curtis coupled with a Pioneer attacking error.
The women's volleyball team returns to Fairfield, CT next weekend as they host the Sacred Heart Invitational. The two day tournament includes host SHU along with Jacksonville, Binghamton, Lehigh, and Dartmouth.