WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph volleyball team beat the Lasell College Lasers in a five-set thriller at home on Tuesday night, 3-2. The Blue Jays defeated the Lasers 10-25, 27-25, 25-22, 16-25, 15-9 to earn their first Great Northeast Athletic Conference victory of the season. With the win USJ is now 5-6 overall and 1-2 in GNAC action. Lasell falls to 4-8 and 1-1 in the conference.
Senior Cassandra Grimaldi (Manchester, CT/Manchester) led the Blue Jays to victory contributing accross the board on the stat sheet and producing clutch points down the stretch for USJ. She finished with 11 kills, three service aces, four digs, a block solo and a game-high six block assists. Freshman Jasmine Buckley also had a nice night posting a game-high 14 kills, game-high 19 digs and also had three block assists. USJ had a season-high 10 total team blocks in the win.
At first glance it looked like the Blue Jays may have been in for a long night as they came out a bit flat and dropped the first set to Lasell, 25-10. The Lasers raced out to a quick 5-0 lead forcing a USJ timeout just minutes into the contest. Junior Taylor Tiezzi (Meriden, CT/Platt) had a pair of service aces in the early going for Lasell.
USJ would get on the board coming out of the timeout, but would never really get settled in throughout the remainder of the set. A big 10-0 run by the Lasers in the middle of the set made it 16-4 in favor of the visitors and the deficit was too much to overcome as the Blue Jays would drop the opener, 25-10.
They bounced back though and in a huge way coming from behind late to even the match at 1-1 after winning the second set 27-25. Trailing 24-20 and facing set-point, the Blue Jays would fight back with four straight points to tie the match 24-24. Two huge service aces by freshman Demetria Eiger (Phoenix, AZ/Cactus Shadows) capped the comeback. The two teams would trade the next two points before a kill by Grimaldi followed by a Lasell attack error ended the set 27-25 in favor of the Blue and Gold.
The Blue Jays would carry over the momentum and went up 2-1 after winning the third set 25-22. Three more service aces by Eiger early in the set kept things going as USJ would eventually build a 16-10 advantage, their largest of the set. Lasell would battle back though and responded with an 11-3 to storm back and take a 21-19 edge and force a Blue Jay timeout. USJ answered and coming out of the timeout they used a 6-1 run to win the set 25-22. Five Lasell unforced errors followed by a Buckley kill accounted for the difference.
Lasell wouldn't go down without a fight though and won the fourth set handedly, 25-16, to even the match 2-2. The Lasers came out strong and built a commanding 19-6 lead halfway through the set. Three kills and a pair of service aces by sophomore Olivia Addington (Orange, CA/El Modena) powered the good start for the Lasers. USJ tried to chip away and pulled within 22-14, but the false start proved to be too much to overcome as they fell, 25-16.
The fifth and final deciding set entertained as the score was tied three seperate times and changed hands twice on the race to 15 points. Both teams traded points early knotting the score at 4-4. That would be the last time USJ would be tied or trail however. Leading 9-7, the senior, Grimaldi took over and impacted the next four USJ points to secure the victory. She posted a solo block then a kill followed by two block assists to put USJ outfront 13-8 and the Blue Jays would go on to win the set 15-9 and the match 3-2.
Grimaldi led the team in hitting percentage on the night and hit .111 with 11 kills in 36 total attacks againt seven errors. As a team the Blue Jays hit -.041 in the victory, but were clutch hitting .125 in the fifth and final set.
Eiger finished with a game-high seven service aces for the Blue Jays and sophomore setter Brenna Miller (McCleary, WA/Elma) posted a game-high 33 assists running the offense. She also chipped in with 16 digs and a block assist on defense.
Addington led the way for Lasell with 13 kills against just two errors in 47 total attempts to hit .234 for the match. She also had 16 digs and a pair of block assists. Tiezzi recorded 28 assists and added 17 digs.
The USJ volleyball team will be back in action next when they return home to face-off with Becker College on Thursday, Sept. 29. The match is slated to begin at 7 p.m. inside the O'Connell Athletic Center.