NEW BRITAIN, CONN. (October 6, 2013)—Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) reached a double-double Sunday afternoon in the Detrick Gym leading the match with 19 kills and 13 digs. Despite recording 11 more kills than Central Connecticut State University, hitting and service errors were the Pioneers downfall as the Sacred Heart women's volleyball team got their first conference loss 3-1 at the hands of the Blue Devils. With the loss, SHU falls to 9-7 on the season and 3-1 in conference.
Both squads battled hard in the first set with the lead changing hands four times and the score tying on 12 occasions. CCSU maintained the lead heading towards the end, but the Pioneers worked their way back to tie the score once again at 18 with a kill by freshman Marie Zimmerman (Denver, Colo.) sending Alisa Mesa (Long Beach, Calif.) back to serve. Back-to-back Sacred Heart kills by Mesa and Alissa Young (La Verne, Calif.) gave SHU the advantage and forced the Blue Devils to call a timeout. That didn't slow down the Pioneers, who burst out of the timeout with an ace by Mesa and another kill from Young resulting in another CCSU timeout. The second break snapped Sacred Heart's streak, but the Blue Devils could never recover as the Pioneers took the first set 25-22. Mercado had her best set of the day hitting .750 and leading the set with six kills.
Despite triumphing in the first set, the Pioneers stumbled in the second. After staying close tying the score on every point, with the score knotted at 12, the Blue Devils put seven consecutive points on the board for a 19-12 lead. Sacred Heart got two more, but Cassidy Stankowski's four-point service run that clinched the set 25-14 for CCSU. Zimmerman posted an errorless set, leading the team with two kills on six attempts.
After matching each other point-for-point, the Pioneers got a slight edge on Zimmerman's five-point service run for a 7-3 lead. The Blue Devils fought back and on a 7-2 run, reclaimed the lead 16-13. That didn't stop Sacred Heart, who came back once again to tie the set at 22 forcing CCSU into a timeout. The regrouping proved affective as the Blue Devils took three of the next four points, claiming the 2-0 match lead with the 25-23 win. Mercado and Zimmerman both posted a set-best four kills and four digs.
The Pioneers took an early, definitive 6-1 lead, and seemed to be on their way to forcing a fifth set by maintaining the lead throughout the majority of the fourth set. CCSU wasn't going down without a fight. Using Sacred Heart errors, the Blue Devils worked their way out of the hole to tie the score at 22 on a kill by Heather Truman. Back-to-back kills from Zimmerman and Mercado snapped the tie and put the Pioneers at set-point. With their backs against the wall, the Blue Devils rallied four-straight points to clinch the match with the 26-24 win.
Sacred Heart is back in action Tuesday night facing the Connecticut Huskies at 7:00 p.m.