Pioneers Blank Saint Francis U for First NEC Win

FAIRFIELD, CONN. (September 28, 2013)—The Sacred Heart women's volleyball team swept Saint Francis U for its first Northeast Conference win Saturday evening. Freshman Sarah Krufka (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) led the way tallying 16 kills while hitting .464 for the night. Middle blocker Allison Riggs (Anaheim, Calif.) posted the match's top hitting percentage of .500 (7-for-10 with two errors), while Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) snagged a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs. Sacred Heart improves to 7-6 with the win.

After exchanging points to open the first set, the Red Flash got a slight two-point edge on kills by Sophie Murdock and Breanna Opera, but the Pioneers quickly rebounded on Marie Zimmerman's (Denver, Colo.) five-point service run to take a 10-6 lead and force SFU to use a timeout. The Red Flash got one point coming out of the timeout before SHU put three more on the board improving their lead to five-points. The Pioneers' lead peaked at seven points, 19-12, as they rode the lead to the 25-20 win. Krufka posted an errorless first set hitting .615, and leading the set with eight kills, while rookie Kiki Robinson (Bakersfield, Calif.) recorded 13 assists.

The second set looked errily similar to the first with the Pioneers overcoming a four-point deficit to reclaim the lead 10-9 on Ana Gonzalez's (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) service ace. That was just the start of SHU's 7-1 run that boosted the Pioneers to a 15-10 lead. From there, the closest the Red Flash could get was within two points as Sacred Heart claimed a 2-0 match lead with another 25-20 win. Dianis Mercado's four kills led the set as the senior hit .308 (4-for-13 with no errors).

The Red Flash seemed to be refreshed after the break and took the opening three points of the third set for a quick lead, but Mercado's five-point service run quickly squashed SFU's momentum and gave Sacred Heart a 5-3 lead. The Pioneers maintained the lead throughout the set, but Saint Francis went down fighting coming within just one point of catching the strong SHU squad on three occasions, including the Sacred Heart attack error that brought the score to 23-22. A Red Flash attack error and a kill by Riggs sealed the deal and handed SHU the 25-22 victory and the sweep.

The Pioneers take on another strong conference opponent in Robert Morris tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m.