Purple Knights grab first NE-10 win, sweep past Merrimack, 3-0

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team picked up its first Northeast-10 Conference victory of the season, topping Merrimack College, 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-18), on Tuesday at Ross Sports Center. With the win, the Purple Knights improve to 8-5 overall and 1-2 in the conference, while the Warriors drop to 7-8 and 0-2.

Senior Katie Walsh (North Kingstown, R.I./The Prout School) notched 12 kills, seven digs and three blocks for Saint Michael's, while classmate Tracy Peterka (Newport Beach, Calif./Mater Dei) and junior Chelsey Covitz (Marshfield, Mass./Marshfield) each recorded eight kills. Peterka added eight digs, Covitz totaled six blocks, and senior Courtney Dunne (Hopkinton, Mass./Bancroft School) led the Purple Knights with 19 digs. Junior Jess McLeod (Medfield, Mass./Medfield) contributed 33 assists to lead the home team. First-year Kelsey Flaherty (Cold Spring, N.Y./Haldane) had nine digs, and junior Lindsay Phenix (Tewksbury, Mass./Central Catholic) notched three blocks.

Sophomore Stephanie Sheehan (Smithtown, N.Y./Saint Anthony's) registered 13 kills and 11 digs for Merrimack, while senior Jenna Reilly (Northport, N.Y./Northport) and sophomore Corrine Gosselin (Lawrence, Mass./Central Catholic) added eight kills apiece. Senior Brianna Trabucco (Canton, Mass./Canton) tallied 32 assists and nine digs for the Warriors, while first-year Madison Burke (San Jose, Calif./Valley Christian) led the team with 21 digs.

Neither team held more than a two-point advantage until Saint Michael's grabbed a 16-13 lead in the opening set. The visitors took six of the next 10 points, as Covitz recorded two blocks and Peterka added one for Saint Michael's, and Sheehan notched three kills for Merrimack. The Purple Knights took three of the next four points and led 23-20, scoring on kills from Covitz, Flaherty and Phenix. The Warriors answered with two straight points, on kills from senior Shaunda Forcier (Gonic, N.H./Spaulding) and junior Jackie Jones (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan/Wheaton [Mass.]), before Walsh added a kill, but another Forcier kill made it 24-23. Saint Michael's took the set after a Warrior service error.

Merrimack took nine of the first 12 points to open the second set before Saint Michael's rallied, later putting together an 8-0 run, in which Covitz tallied three kills, to take a 19-15 advantage. The Warriors scored five straight points to deadlock the set at 23, but Peterka notched a kill before an attack error by Merrimack gave the hosts a 2-0 edge.

 The Purple Knights opened up a 6-3 lead to begin the third set before Merrimack took the next two points to trail 6-5. Saint Michael's began to pull away, taking an 18-11 on a kill from Walsh. The Warriors took five of the next six points to trail 19-16, but Saint Michael's closed the set with the final four points, as Walsh notched a kill at match point.

The Purple Knights are back in action on Wednesday when they host the State University of New York at Plattsburgh at 7 p.m.