Pioneers Lose the Battle to UConn 3-2

STORRS, CONN. (October 8, 2013)—The Sacred Heart women's volleyball team lost a tough five-set battle to the University of Connecticut in a midweek non-conference match Tuesday in the Gampel Pavilion. Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) led the match hitting 25 kills while hitting .291. Rookie Rachel Guida (Huntington, N.Y.) had her best match of the season topping all players by hitting .526, recording 10 kills on 16 attempts with just one error in the five sets. The loss drops the Pioneers to 9-8 in 2013.

The teams played close in the first set, trading points and small leads early. With the score knotted at 12, UConn went on a 6-2 run sparked by a Husky block, claiming the lead they carried to the end, as they took the opening set 25-20. 

The second set looked a lot like the first with the Pioneers and Huskies matching each other point for point. With UConn up by two 8-6, Sarah Krufka (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) sent down a kill kicking off a seven-point Sacred Heart run that put SHU up 13-8. The Huskies managed to tie the score four times, including the 21 all knot, but Sacred Heart fended them off every time. Back-to-back kills from rookie Marie Zimmerman (Denver, Colo.) got the Pioneers started on their sprint to the finish, accounting for the first two points of SHU's five-point run that clinched the set 25-21 and evened the match at one set a piece.

UConn seemed to be getting the best of Sacred Heart to start the third set, taking an early lead that eventually stretched to seven points, 11-4. The Pioneers fought back using a 7-1 run, featuring a four-point service-run from Ana Gonzalez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico), to chip away at the Huskies' lead. SHU tied the score at 14 and took the lead with a UConn attack error and an ace by junior Alissa Young (La Verne, Calif.). Once the Pioneers claimed the lead they held on tight, never relinquishing it on the way to another 25-21 win. 

The Pioneers wasted no time in the fourth set, claiming the lead early, but the Huskies slowly dug their way out of the hole to tie the set at 14 and take a one-point lead by blocking of Krufka's hit. Sacred Heart wouldn't stand for that, and quickly took by the lead 16-15 with one swing from Mercado. With SHU up 21-18, Erika Thomas registered a kill, the first of seven consecutive points for the Huskies, who forced a fifth set wit the 25-21 win.

Neither team was able to get a definitive advantage in the final set with the score tying seven times before either team could put double-digits on the scoreboard. The set was knotted at nine when the Huskies managed back-to-back points gaining just enough of an edge over the Pioneers to claim the set 15-12.

Sacred Heart heads to Brooklyn this weekend for a pair of Northeast Conference matches, facing the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds on Saturday, and the Terriers of St. Francis Brooklyn on Sunday.