Syracuse, NY - The SHU women's volleyball team had four set points in the middle stanza but Syracuse rallied to take the frame and eventually shutout the Pioneers in the first game of the Big Orange Invitational Friday night. Kimmee Roleder (Pasadena, CA) led the Pioneers with 12 kills in her first match wearing a SHU uniform. Sacred Heart struggled in the first set but regained its composure, dropping two very competitive final games to close the match.
Syracuse (1-0) came out on fire to start the match, rattling off six straight points to open up a 6-0 lead and force SHU head coach Rob Machan to call a timeout. The Pioneers won the next two points off the bench but would but the Orange would pull away again to maintain a comfortable advantage throughout the frame. The Syracuse defense dominated early racking up five blocks and holding SHU to a -.095 hitting percentage en route to 25-14 triumph in the opening set.
Sacred Heart (0-1) responded to early trouble in the second set by winning four consecutive points, including a service ace by Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) at 403 to give SHU its first lead of the match. The two sides battled back and forth until the Pioneers claimed three straight rallies, the final on a Mercado block, to take a 22-18 advantage and force the Orange to call a timeout. Sacred Heart eventually wound up with three set points beginning at 24-21. However, Syracuse saved all three to knot the middle game at 24-24. Roleder perfectly placed an angled shot for a kill that give SHU another set point opportunity. The Orange got a kill on the next point and eventually went up 2-0 in the match as back-to-back SHU errors gave the home side the 28-26 victory.
The third set was tight from wire to wire as neither team would ever extend a lead past three points. Both sides recorded 13 kills in the frame but it was Syracuse's four blocks that were the difference as the Orange took the final set, 28-26.
Two Pioneers posted double digits in digs as Jessica Colberg (Long Beach, CA) tallied 12 and Mercado notched 11. Alisa Mesa (Long Beach, CA) paced the Pioneers with 17 assists in her first collegiate match.
The Pioneers will look to pick up their first win of 2011 tomorrow, the final day of the Big Orange Tournament, as they take on Siena at 10:00 am and Youngstown State at 4:30 pm.
Check out the latest Big Red Report (8/25/11)