Women's volleyball opens road weekend with loss at Southern Connecticut State

Women's volleyball opens road weekend with loss at Southern Connecticut State

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team opened a two-match road weekend with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 27-25) loss at Southern Connecticut State University on Friday evening in Pelz Gymnasium. The Purple Knights are 3-9 overall and 1-6 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Owls improved to 14-10 and 4-4.

Junior Megan Priester (Dover, N.H./Dover) led Saint Michael's with eight kills, and classmate McKenzie McNamara (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke) had six kills. Senior Megan Mulvaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) and first-year Jordan Dean (Gilford, N.H./Gilford) posted five kills apiece, with Dean chipping in five digs. Sophomore Sarah Rodgers (Cheshire, Conn./Cheshire) notched 17 assists and five digs, and senior Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) turned in a double-double of 11 helpers and 10 digs.

Senior Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) recorded a match-high-tying 11 digs, and junior Julia Colasanti (Northville, Mich./Northville) collected nine. Moore pushed her career total to 1,702 and now stands 31 shy of Stephanie Smetana's '09 program mark of 1,733. As a team, Saint Michael's recorded 32 kills to the Owls' 31 and also held a decisive 52-37 advantage in digs, but the hosts earned leads of 9-3 in service aces and 13-1 on blocks.

Junior Sean Taylor had nine kills and four blocks for Southern Connecticut State, and first-year Jillian Chambers turned in eight kills. Sophomore Leanna Jadus collected seven, as the trio combined for 24 kills and only three errors. Junior Alexandria Jurgens totaled 15 assists, eight digs and three blocks, and classmate Alexandra Nimz added 13 helpers. First-year Anna Venard had 11 digs and two aces.

During an opening set that saw six early ties while neither team led by more than three points until the latter stages, McNamara dropped kills to twice bring her team within one, at 12-11 and 13-12, before the Owls rattled off six straight points to lead 19-12, kicking off a set-ending 12-4 run.

Jadus notched a kill for the opening point of the second set, and Southern Connecticut State led from that point on. An early 4-0 run put the Owls ahead 7-2, and they continued to lead by no fewer than four points until McNamara's ace drew Saint Michael's within 18-15. The hosts countered with the next four points and never again led by fewer than five points.

Set No. 3 featured 14 ties and 10 lead changes, as the Purple Knights' 7-4 edge was the largest by either team until Jadus and redshirt junior Taylor Flowers posted consecutive tandem blocks to cap a 3-0 run and make it 16-12 in favor of Southern Connecticut State. A kill, block and assist by McNamara keyed a 7-1 response, and the teams went back and forth down the stretch. Flowers had two blocks in a 3-0 run that put the hosts up 20-19, but Saint Michael's scored four of the next five points to lead 23-21 on Rodgers' ace. The next three points were by the hosts, whose chance to clinch the match was denied when sophomore Gabby Ratte (Kula, Hawaii/Seabury Hall/Colby-Sawyer) notched a kill, and an Owl attack error left the visitors up 25-24 and serving for the set. However, Southern Connecticut State scored the final three points, winning the match on Taylor's kill.

The Purple Knights head to the University of New Haven tomorrow for a 7 p.m. match. The Chargers qualified for 30 of the past 33 NCAA Tournaments, including the past 10, and finished as the runner-up in last year's NE-10 Championship.