WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph volleyball team dropped a pair of matches on Saturday in the Blue Jays Great Northeast Athletic Conference opening weekend of play at home. USJ hosted a tri-match with Anna Maria College and Emmanuel College inside the O'Connell Center and the visitors spoiled the weekend as Anna Maria topped USJ 3-1 in the opening match before Emmanuel defeated USJ 3-0 in the finale. With the losses the Blue and Yellow fall to 4-6 overall on the season and 0-2 in the GNAC.
Match 1 - USJ 1, Anna Maria 3
In the opening match of the afternoon the Anna Maria Amcats took down the Blue Jays 3-1. USJ took the first set 25-23, but then the Amcats went on to take the next three straight sets 25-14, 25-17, 25-13 for the victory.
The first set was a back and forth affair throughout with both teams getting clutch point after clutch point, but it was the Blue Jays who would bear down down the stretch to come away with a 25-23 opening set victory. The set featured the score being tied 12 different times and saw the lead change hands seven different times as neither team would lead by more than three points throughout the entire set.
The Blue Jays would take the largest lead of the set after freshman Amber Langlois (Stratford, CT/Sacred Heart Academy) hammered home a kill to put USJ up 20-17. The Amcats would come back to tie it 23-23, but a kill by freshman Shytasia Williams (Middletown, CT/Mercy) followed by a solo block from senior Cassandra Grimaldi (Manchester, CT/Manchester) would seal the 25-23 victory.
The next three sets would be all Anna Maria however, as the Blue Jays could not keep the momentum rolling after the clutch opening set win. AMC raced out to an early 8-0 lead in the second set and would never look back as they would go on to win the set 25-14 to even the match at 1-1. Tierney Clancy had a pair of service aces and a kill during the early run to pull the visitors out front.
In the third set, USJ looked to regain its form and both teams battled back and forth in the early going. Knotted at 6-6, AMC used a quick 4-0 spurt to take a 10-6 lead, but following a USJ timeout the Blue Jays refocused and we able to fight back and tie the match 13-13. That would be as close as the Blue Jays would get for the remainder of the set though as the Amcats closed out the set on a 12-4 to take the third set 25-17.
The late rally in the third set seemed to be the momentum swing in the match for the Amcats. However, the Blue Jays came out agressively in the fourth set and took an early lead before AMC was able to tie it 6-6. The Amcats would take control from then on and would go on to win the set 25-13 to take the match 3-1.
Grimaldi turned in a great performance in the first match of the day finishing with a team-high nine kills on 16 total attacks without an error to hit a team-best .562 over the four sets. She also posted a pair of block solos and a block assist for the Blue Jays.
Sophomore setter Brenna Miller (McCleary, WA/Elma) ran the offense once again for USJ and had 30 assists in the setback. She also finished with a team-high 12 digs to lead the Blue Jays defensively.
Match 2 - USJ 0, Emmanuel 3
In the final match of the afternoon the Emmanuel College Saints swept the Blue Jays 3-0 winning in straight sets 25-15, 25-14, 25-10. The Saints posted a .284 hitting percentage as a team compared to the Blue -.050 hitting percentage to earn the victory.
The first set proved to be very competitive in the early going as both teams battled and grinded out points. Both teams seemed evenly match and were trading points and following a kill by Miller the score was tied 12-12. Emmanuel would take control in the opening set from then on though and closed out the set on a 13-2 run to take the set 25-15.
Similarly in the second set the score remained close in the early going and Emmanuel held a slight 9-7 edge following a kill by junior Hannah Lemek (Bristol, CT/Bristol Central). Then the Saints would take over once again and used a late surge to pull away and take the second set 25-14.
Emmanuel controlled much of the play in the final set and raced out to an early 8-4 lead over the home team. The Blue Jays would pull within 10-7, but that would be as close as they would get as the Saints closed out the Blue Jays 25-10 for the victory in straight sets.
Freshman Jasmine Buckley (Beacon, NY/Beacon) had a team-high six kills in the second match of the afternoon, while Miller posted 14 assists and 11 digs for the Blue Jays.
The USJ volleyball team will return to action next on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. when they host Lasell in a GNAC showdown inside the O'Connell Athletic Center.