Women's volleyball blanks Pace for first time, stays in NE-10 postseason hunt

Women's volleyball blanks Pace for first time, stays in NE-10 postseason hunt

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team won on Senior Day for the third straight year, blanking Pace University for the first time in program history with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-19) triumph on Saturday in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights are now 12-10 overall and 5-7 in the Northeast-10 Conference, reaching their highest league since total since 1994. The Setters are 13-17 and 5-6.

Saint Michael's finds itself one game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in a conference that accepts its top eight into the postseason. The Purple and Gold has a pair of regular-season matches remaining, both on the road, beginning on Friday at fourth-place Le Moyne College at 5 p.m., while seeking its first postseason berth since 1995.

The Purple Knights, who have won two of their last three against Pace after losing the first 16 all-time meetings, received 11 kills from sophomore Megan Priester (Dover, N.H./Dover), while senior Kelsey Flaherty (Cold Spring, N.Y./Haldane) had 10 kills, seven digs and two blocks. Classmate Candace Washington (New Carrollton, Md./Parkdale) added nine kills and four blocks, as she and Flaherty were honored prior to their final career home match.

Junior Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) turned in 32 assists and six digs as well as six kills on 12 attacks, hitting .500. Classmate Megan Mulvaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) added six kills on 15 strikes, swinging at a .400 clip. Junior Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) totaled 26 digs and five assists, classmate Natalia Maccarrone (Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) notched 14 digs, and sophomore Julia Colasanti (Northville, Mich./Northville) contributed 10 digs.

Moore increased her season dig total to 516, the third-highest figure in school annals, while joining Stephanie Robbins '05 and Stephanie Smetana '09 as the lone Purple Knights with 500 in a season. Moore has the most since Smetana turned in 555 in 2007, and is 67 shy of Smetana's 2006 school record. With 726 assists, Weller is the fifth player in program history to reach the 700-helper plateau. Washington also inched closer to Tracy Carlsten's '89 28-year-old program blocks mark of 120, as her total has grown to 107 this year.

Sophomore Amy Vicic led Pace with 14 kills, 11 digs and two blocks, while junior Miki Carver and first-year Mira Wallace posted 17 and 14 assists, respectively. Senior Rebecca Italiano added 27 digs.

Washington's kill gave Saint Michael's a 7-2 advantage in the opening set, and a kill from Flaherty kept the hosts on top at 13-8 before the Setters rallied, using a 10-3 run to pull ahead 18-16 on Vicic's kill. Another kill from Vicic had Pace up 19-17 before the Purple Knights rattled off the next three points, with Mulvaney's kill putting her team ahead. A quick, go-ahead 2-0 spurt by the visitors, making it 21-20, was met by a 4-0 Saint Michael's run during which Washington had a kill and a block, and Pace fought off two set points to pull within 24-23 before Washington's kill clinched the set.

Five straight Purple Knight points, including two on Washington kills, made it 5-1 early in set No. 2, and Flaherty's kill produced a 12-7 margin before Pace again had a mid-set rally, employing a tying 6-1 run. Priester and Weller later dropped back-to-back kills to give Saint Michael's an 18-15 edge, and the Setters never came within two points, trailing 22-20 on Vicic's kill before the visitors committed three consecutive attack errors.

After the Purple Knights saw a 9-5 edge wiped out due to a 7-3 Pace run in the third set, Flaherty and Weller posted kills during a 6-0 jaunt that snapped a 12-all tie, and the Setters never again trailed by fewer than four points. In her final touch as a collegian on the Ross Sports Center floor, Flaherty dropped a kill to clinch the victory.