Freshman Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) rattled off a career best 17 kills as the Pioneers hit .322 as a team to cruise past the Highlanders 3-0 Thursday night at the Pitt Center. Sacred Heart improves the program best winning streak to 12 games and has compiled a perfect 8-0 record at home in 2010. Ashlyn Trimble (Temecula, CA) also swung well with 11 kills for the evening as well as adding eight digs on defense.
Sacred Heart (17-4) took command early in the opening set, jumping out to a 7-3 lead. Trimble paced SHU with six kills and no errors in the opening frame, good for a .463 hitting percentage. As a team Sacred Heart hit a match high .405 in the first stanza while holding the highlanders to a .103 clip. The Pioneers won three straight points off the serve of sophomore Nicole Morales (Medford, NY) to earn a set point at 24-12. Sacred Heart took a 1-0 lead overall two points later on a kill from Trimble to end the first game 25-13.
NJIT (4-14) continued to struggle in the second set, posting only six kills and tallying a .143 hitting percentage. Another early SHU surge put the set at 11-4 following a service ace from Mercado. Mercado played perfectly in the second game and earned a kill on all seven of her attempts. Courtney Kidd-Kadlubek (Santa Barbara, CA) added 12 of her match high 35 assists in the set. The Pioneers streaked to a 25-12 second set victory on the strength of seven consecutive points on Kidd-Kadlubek serves.
The Highlanders kept the third set close and took the lead at 15-14 on a kill from Janet Snell. Sacred Heart came roaring back with seven straight points, four on Mercado kills, to end any thoughts of a NJIT comeback. Maile Hetherington (Thousand Oaks, CA) ended the match at 25-17 in the third with one of her five kills of the night. Christina Bauch (Trabuco Canyon, CA) and Jessica Colberg (Long Beach, CA) each totaled double digit digs with 12 and 11, respectively. Sophomore Megan Pulone (Diamond Bar, CA) and freshman Kelsey Freeman (Denver, CO) also saw action throughout the night. Pulone finished with four kills and two digs while Freeman earned two kills and two assists.
The Pioneers return home this weekend for a pair of Northeast Conference matches against Bryant and Central Connecticut State, SHU is currently 6-0 in league play.