WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Jospeh volleyball team saw three players with double-digit kills to power the Blue Jays past the Becker College Hawks, 3-1, inside the O'Connell Center on Thursday night. USJ defeated the Hawks 25-10, 25-20, 23-25, 25-20 to earn the win and even its record at 6-6 on the season. Becker slips to 7-9 on the year with the setback.
Freshman Shytasia Williams (Middletown CT/Mercy) led the way for the Blue Jays with a career-high and game-high 14 kills. She was joined in double-digit kills by classmate Jasmine Buckley (Beacon, NY/Beacon) and senior Cassandra Grimaldi (Manchester, CT/Manchester) who had 13 and 11 kills, respectively. It marks the first time this season the Blue Jays have had three players with 10+ kills in a match.
The Blue Jays displayed dominance in the opening set of the match taking the first set by a score of 25-10. They raced out to an early 12-5 lead forcing a Becker timeout and would never look back. Buckley had five of USJ's first 12 points, recording three kills and a pair of service aces.
In the second set it was Becker who would take the early edge and built a 7-3 lead over the first 10 points. Veronica Patella-Quinones (Lake Mary, FL/Lake Mary) fueled the early charge for the visitors with two kills and a service ace. The Blue Jays would rally though and charged back to tie the set 10-10. Buckley would prove huge once again with a kill and two more service aces to get USJ back in it. Both teams would trade points until the Blue Jays would eventually take over and used a 7-2 run to go up 22-17. The senior, Grimaldi, sparked the run with three kills. They would eventually hold on for a 25-20 set win to take a 2-0 lead.
Becker wouldn't go down easily though and took the third set 25-23. Clearly the closest contested set of the match, each team battled back and forth in a set that saw the score tied 11 different times and change sides four times. The Hawks were on the ropes trailing 22-20, but sophomore Kayla Dupree (North Bergen, NJ/Bronx) had other plans and ignited Becker with back-to-back kills followed by a block assist to put the visitors up 23-22 and force a USJ timeout. The surge was enough as they would hold on for a 25-23 set win and pull the match to 2-1, advantage USJ.
The Blue Jays avoided a fifth and final set though as they controlled much of the play in the fourth set to take it 25-20 and the match 3-1. They kept a consistent two-to-three point lead in the early stages before a 6-0 spurt catapulted them ahead 17-9. Buckley had three kills during the run. That would be all USJ would need for the victory as Williams sealed the win and a career night with back-to-back kills to end it, 25-20.
Willams' 14 kills came on 29 total attacks and she had just two errors to hit an impressive .414 on the night. As a team, the Blue Jays had a hitting percentage of .154 compared to Becker who hit just .038.
Sophomore setter Brenna Miller (McCleary, WA/Elma) finished with a season-high 38 assists, posting back-to-back matches with 30+ assists. She has now recorded 30 or more assists four times this season.
For Becker, Dupree and junior Charlene Landry (Gorham, ME/Gorham) served as a two-headed monster against the Blue Jays. Dupree finished with a team-high nine kills, two service aces, three block solos and a pair of block assists. Landry added eight kills, 14 assists, 13 digs and a block assist.
The USJ volleyball team will be back in action next when they return home to host a tri-match with Mount Ida and Bard on Saturday, Oct. 1. The Blue Jays will first face-off with GNAC foe Mount Ida at 11 a.m. before taking on Bard at 3 p.m.