WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph volleyball team cruised to a 3-0 victory over the Elms College Blazers on Thursday night at home inside the O'Connell Athletic Center. The Blue Jays dominated, winning in straight sets, 25-12, 25-16 and 25-11. With the victory USJ evens its overall record at 4-4 on the season. Elms drops to 1-10 on the year with the loss.
The Blue Jays hit a season-best .338 in the victory with 38 kills in 77 total attacks against just 12 attacking errors, including an impressive .517 hitting percentage in the third and decisive set to seal the win. Senior Cassandra Grimaldi (Manchester, CT/Manchester) and freshman Jasmine Buckley (Beacon, NY/Beacon) led the way with eight kills apiece.
In the opening set both teams traded points early on with the home team holding a slight 5-4 advantage after a Blue Jay service error. Then, USJ would take contol of the set after rattling off a huge 14-0 run to go up 19-4 and would never look back. Freshman Demetria Eiger (Phoenix, AZ/Cactus Shadows) accounted for three service aces during the run. The spurt would be too much for the Blazers to overcome and USJ went on to win the first set, 25-12.
A big run by the Blue Jays in the second set would doom the visitors once again. After USJ raced out to a 6-3 lead in the early going, the Blue and Yellow went on a clutch 10-0 surge to take a 16-3 lead. This time it was Buckley and Grimaldi that powered the run for USJ as Buckley slammed home three kills and Grimaldi had a pair of service aces. Elms would try and chip away at the lead, but the run proved to be too devastating and the Blue Jays went on to hold on for a 25-16 second set win to take a 2-0 lead.
The third and final set started off a little different than the previous two sets as Elms held a slight early lead until the Blue Jays were able to tie the match at 6-6. From then on it was all USJ. They would allow Elms to score just five more points in the entire match and closed out the set and match with a 19-5 run to take the third set 25-11 and match 3-0. Grimaldi led the third set with four kills followed by junior Hannah Lemek (Bristol, CT/Bristol Central) and sophomore Miah Giarnese (Torrington, CT/Torrington) who each had three.
Buckley had eight kills in nine total attacks without an error to hit an insane .889 in the victory, while Grimaldi also had eight kills on 13 total attacks with three errors to hit .385. Lemek finished with six kills. Sophomore setter Brenna Miller (McCleary, WA/Elma) ran the USJ offense and posted a game-high 29 assists.
Defensively, Buckley, Eiger and sophomore Carly Ruzbasan (Torrington, CT/Torrington) each had five digs to lead the way for USJ, while Lemek had a block solo and a block assist.
For Elms, Danielle Redding (Las Vegas, NV/Bishop Gorman) finished with a team-high seven kills. Carolyn Campbell (Millers Falls, MA/Turners Falls) had 14 assists and Redding and Hannah Adams (Deerfield, MA/Frontier) each had five digs apiece.
The USJ volleyball team will be back in action next this Saturday, Sept. 24 when they host its first tri-match of the season inside the O'Connell Center. The tri-match will also serve as the first GNAC matches of the season for the Blue Jays as they play Anna Maria at 11 a.m. before squaring off with Emmanuel at 3 p.m.