The University of Saint Joseph volleyball team topped the Bay Path Wildcats 3-1 in its season opener on Thursday night inside the O'Connell Athletic Center. Freshman Jasmine Buckley powered the Blue Jays to victory recording a game-high 18 kills on 38 total attacks with just six errors to hit .316 in her USJ debut. With the victory the Blue Jays move to 1-0 on the season, while Bay Path drops to 0-1.
The first set was tightly contested with Bay Path holding a slight 11-10 lead before the Blue Jays rattled off a quick 5-0 run to go up 15-11. The spurt ignited USJ as they would never trail again and took the first set by a score of 25-14. Senior Cassandra Grimaldi was vital in the run posting a kill and a block assist to swing the momentum.
Saint Joseph kept up the pressure and controlled much of the play in the second set as they never trailed after the opening point. With the Blue Jays leading 6-5, they then opened up the margin with seven straight points to double up Bay Path 12-6 halfway through the set. Buckley capped off the run with back-to-back service aces and USJ would go on to win the second set 25-16.
The third set proved to be a set of huge runs. The Wildcats wouldn't go down easily and jumped out to a quick 10-4 advantage forcing an early USJ timeout. The Blue Jays would respond coming out of the timeout however, and exploded for a 14-3 run to take a 18-13 lead. The Wildcats were resilient though and didn't allow Saint Joseph to score another point, closing the set on a 12-0 run to win the set 25-18.
USJ wouldn't allow the match to go to a decisive fifth set as they closed out Wildcats in the fourth set taking it 25-17. Much like the first set both teams went back and forth in the early going until the Blue Jays took over late in the set.
Buckley led the way with a game-high 18 kills and also finished with 16 digs for a double-double. Sophomore setter Brenna Miller posted an impressive 31 assists to facilitate the Blue Jays offense in the victory. She was also equally impressive on the defensive side registering a game-high 17 digs. Grimaldi finished with a pair of block solos and a block assist to go along with six service aces on the night for USJ.
Paige Marshall led Bay Path with six kills, 12 digs and two block assists, while Lexi Cears contributed 12 assists. Lauren Vallee chipped in with 11 digs, a pair of block assists and also had six service aces.
The USJ volleyball team will return to action next on Saturday as they travel to Mount Holyoke for a tri-match with Western New England and host Mount Holyoke. The Blue Jays will first faceoff with Western New England at 1 p.m. before taking on Mount Holyoke at 3 p.m.