Volleyball Defeats Central; Clinches NEC Tournament Berth

Liisel Nelis (Credit: Steve McLaughlin)
Liisel Nelis (Credit: Steve McLaughlin)

The Sacred Heart University women's volleyball team clinched a berth in the Northeast Conference Tournament with a 3-1 win over NEC host Central Connecticut State University. The victory improves the Pioneers to 16-11 on the season and 11-3 in NEC play, while the Blue Devils fell to 13-14 overall and 9-6 in NEC action.

Liisel Nelis notched a double-double, with a match-high 18 kills and 14 digs, hitting .348.  Two Pioneers reached 20 in digs on the night, with Emma Smallcomb recorded 23 and Lilian Vargo, 20. Sarah Ciszek handed out 48 assists.

The Pioneers travel to Merrimack on Friday for a 7:00 pm match, before hosting Bryant Saturday at 5:00 pm. The Saturday match will be followed by a Senior Day ceremony.

By The Numbers:

  • Julia Murawinski notched a dozen kills and Makayla Dole contributed 10 kills
  • Ciszek finished with nine kills, hitting .533 and recorded eight digs
  • The Pioneers totaled 14 blocks, led by Dole's seven – including three solo blocks
  • Gianna SCiolettie also recorded seven blocks, to go along with six kills
  • The Pioneers hit .241, to the Blue Devils .159
  • Emma Henderson led three Blue Devils in double figures, with 13 kills to go along with 22 digs
  • Samantha McCreath also had a double-double, with 10 kills and 17 digs

First Set: SHU 25, CCSU 20

  • A Makayla Dole kill, followed by a Dole block and a Reghan Palanchi kill broke a 4-4 tie in favor of the Pioneers
  • The Blue Devils were able to battle back within one, 9-8, before a 6-2 Pioneer run
  • The run was sparked by another block and kill by Dole and capped by a Murawinski kill, at 15-10, that forced a CCSU timeout
  • The Blue Devils scored five straight out of the break, with three kills and a serice ace from Ashlyn Eisenga tying the score 15-15
  • Back-to-back errors by CCSU, after a SHU timeout, put the Pioneers back in front, 17-15
  • An Isabelle Roufs kill and a Pioneer error tied the score again, at 17-17, before the teams traded points, for 18-18
  • Nelis put the Pioneers in front 19-18, with a kill, giving SHU a lead it wouldn't relinquish
  • CCSU was able to close within a point, 20-19
  • A Nelis kill started a 5-2 run that was finished with a Murawinski kill, for the first set

Second Set: CCSU 25, SHU 20

  • Three kills and an Emma Henderson ace helped the Blue Devils to a 5-2 lead
  • A pair of Murawinski kills started a 7-2 SHU run, that knotted the set, 9-9, and forced a CCSU timeout
  • The teams traded the next six points, to get to 12-12, before a Madelyn Kaprelyan kill, started a 7-0 Blue Devil run
  • SHU was able to close within four, twice in the closing stage of the set, but no closer, and fell 25-20

Third Set: SHU 25, CCSU 20

  • CCSU continued its hot play, and jumped out to an 8-3 advantage
  • Sarah Ciszek ended a 3-0 Blue Devil run with a kill that started a 3-0 run for the Pioneers, that ended with a Rianna McNamee kill, to make it 8-6
  • The Blue Devils still led by two, 10-8, when Isabelle Roufs had a service error
  • That was followed by kills from Nelis and Ciszek, and back-to-back Ciszek aces, to put the Pioneers in front 13-10
  • The largest lead of the set was four points, three different times, the last at 19-15 after a Dole kill
  • That was the first of 10 straight kills between the two teams that saw CCSU close within 22-20
  • The last of the 10 came from Nelis, that was followed by back-to-back blocks from Gianna Scioletti and Murawinski to seal the win

Fourth Set: SHU 25, CCSU 15

  • Central scored two of the first three points, for a 2-1 lead
  • A Ciszek kill tied the score and was the first of four straight Pioneer kills that put SHU n front 5-2, a lead they wouldn't relinquish
  • The Blue Devils were able to get within a point, 9-8, from which point the Pioneers rattled off a 9-2 run
  • The Pioneers finished the set with a 16-7 run, with 10 kills
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