October 13, 2012

Pioneers Down Colonials in Five Sets

Fairfield, Conn.—The Pioneers came back from a two-set deficit to defeat the Robert Morris Colonials in five sets Saturday afternoon. The Sacred Heart Women's Volleyball Team recorded a season-high 74 kills in the close match, while sophomore Alisa Mesa (Long Beach, Calif.) set a career-high with 61 assists. The win boosts SHU to 6-15 on the season and 4-3 in conference play.

Sacred Heart trailed for much of the first set as they committed 11 hitting errors with only 13 kills for a .061 hitting percentage. It wasn't until late that a kill by Johanna Ovsenek (London, On.) tied the match for the first time at 16-16. Three more ties brought the set to a 20-20 before several SHU attack errors combined with a Robert Morris kill and error of their own brought the set to a 25-21 conclusion in favor of the Colonials.

The second set proceeded in similar fashion, except this time it was the Pioneers who led for much of the set. Freshman Natalie Kridel (Huntington Beach, Calif.) led all players with 5 kills as SHU established a six-point lead at 16-10. A four-point service run by RMU's Alex Deines helped the Colonials fight back in the set to an eventual tie at 18-18. Both teams continued to trade points until the match was even at 23. A kill from Robert Morris and one of their 18 total blocks closed the set leaving Sacred Heart in a precarious spot down two sets against a strong conference opponent.

Both teams came out firing in a pivotal third set. Five lead changes within the first 12 points of the match showed that neither team would be willing to let the third set slip away. Sacred Heart chose the right time to post its highest hitting percentage of the day, hitting at a .364 clip. Elise Sage (Greenwood Village, Colo.), freshman Karly Shockey (Chino Hills, Calif.) and Ovsenek were big factors in the offense as they notched 6, 3 and 4 kills respectively without committing a single error amoungst them. Similar to the second set, the Pioneers held the lead most of the way before Robert Morris again tied the match at 18-18. Showing excellent fight and determination the Pioneers won seven of the next nine points to close the set 25-20 and extend the match into a fourth set.

The fourth set proved to be the most hotly contested set as the match was tied 17 times with the lead changing hands 11. Plaguing both teams were numerous hitting errors, which prevented either side from gaining a significant lead. With the score tied 21-21, both teams continued to trade points until Robert Morris earned their first match point of the day at 24-23. A big kill from Kridel eliminated the danger while another kill from the freshman several points later gave Sacred Heart its first set point at 26-25 which forced an RMU timeout. Following the timeout Sacred Heart got the better of an error exchange as all five final points resulted in unforced errors giving SHU a 29-27 victory.

The fifth set was a nail-biter, with both teams fighting for the win. With the Pioneers up by one, 8-7, Sacred Heart committed four consecutive errors, forcing Head Coach Rob Machan to use a timeout. Down 9-13 with Robert Morris just two points away from victory, Shockey sent a ball straight down for a kill, giving the Pioneers the chance to win the match. Megan Pulone (Diamond Bar, Calif.) came in to serve. After two setting errors by the Colonials' Hannah Hoffman, Sacred Heart was only down by one. Consecutive kills from Ovsenek and Riggs brought the Pioneers to match point and forced Robert Morris to take a timeout in hopes of breaking Pulone's service run. His plan was foiled, however, when a Colonial blocking error gave Sacred Heart the match. 

The Pioneers take to the court again tomorrow against the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash at noon in the William H. Pitt Center.