Women's volleyball avenges season-opening loss with 3-1 triumph at Merrimack

Women's volleyball avenges season-opening loss with 3-1 triumph at Merrimack

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team avenged a season-opening 3-1 loss to Merrimack College by downing the Warriors by the same 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 24-26, 25-22) margin on Tuesday evening during Northeast-10 Conference play on Bert Hammel Court. The Purple Knights improved to 7-4 overall and 1-1 in the league, while Merrimack is 4-7 and 0-2. In a series that has seen each team win four of the last eight meetings, Saint Michael's snapped the Warriors' four-match series winning streak.

Senior Candace Washington (New Carrollton, Md./Parkdale) had 16 kills on 25 attacks for the visitors, swinging at a .560 clip and nearing a double-double with a career-high-tying nine blocks. Sophomore Megan Priester (Dover, N.H./Dover) notched nine kills versus only one error while adding a career-high four blocks, and classmate McKenzie McNamara (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke) had a personal-best nine kills in addition to two blocks. Senior Kelsey Flaherty (Cold Spring, N.Y./Haldane) turned in eight kills and eight digs, and junior Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) contributed 42 assists, five digs, three kills and three blocks.

Junior Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) collected 30 digs and three aces, while sophomore Julia Colasanti (Northville, Mich./Northville) and junior Natalia Maccarrone (Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) recorded 10 and nine digs, respectively. Junior Megan Mulvaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) added two of her team's 11 blocks, versus three for the hosts. Saint Michael's hit .192 to Merrimack's .100, committing just 19 errors to the Warriors' 38.

Junior Jennifer Cain had 18 kills, 18 digs and four aces to pace the hosts, while classmate Juliette McCall notched 12 kills. Junior Tara Stuhr handed out 52 assists, and senior Madison Burke turned in 20 digs.

Five straight points gave Merrimack a 5-1 lead in the opening set before the teams went back and forth, with a 6-1 run giving the Purple Knights a 7-6 edge but the Warriors countering with the next three points. Down 10-8, Saint Michael's reeled off 10 of the next 13 points, with Flaherty and Priester dropping two kills apiece. The hosts responded with a tying 8-3 run of their own, knotting the set at 21 on first-year Sofia Basauri's kill. Saint Michael's later closed with three straight points, with McNamara and Washington notching kills.

Saint Michael's began the second set by yielding the first four points and trailed by as much as 7-2 before a 10-4 run put it on top, with McNamara totaling two kills and a block in that time. Back-to-back kills from Priester and McNamara later sparked a 3-0 run that put the visitors ahead 18-15, kicking off an 8-2 stretch that made it 23-17. After four straight points allowed Merrimack to chip within 23-21, McNamara put down a kill prior to a clinching Warrior attack error.

Neither team led by more than three points at any juncture during the third set. Down 24-21, Saint Michael's received a kill and consecutive tandem blocks by Priester and Washington to knot the contest, but McCall's kill and a Purple Knight error allowed the Warriors to take the set. Set No. 4 included 14 ties, as neither team led by more than three points once more. Saint Michael's trailed 17-16 before rattling off the next four points, but Merrimack netted the next three to force the 36th and final deadlock of the match. Consecutive attack errors by the hosts were followed by a Maccarrone ace, and Washington later dropped a kill at match point to cap a closing 5-2 run.

The Purple Knights take their final break from league play on Thursday when they travel to Colby-Sawyer College for a 7 p.m. match. The Chargers are the four-time defending North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Tournament champion, having automatically qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament each of those seasons.