WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph volleyball team split a tri-match that they hosted inside the O'Connell Center on Saturday afternoon. USJ went five sets in both matches defeating GNAC foe Mount Ida, 3-2, before falling to Bard College, 3-2, in non-conference action. With the split the Blue Jays are now 7-7 overall on the season and 2-2 in conference play.
Match 1 - USJ 3, Mt. Ida 2
USJ defeated Mount Ida, 3-2, in the Blue Jays opening match of the afternoon. The Blue Jays won the match 22-25, 25-11, 25-11, 25-20, 15-12 to take down their GNAC opponents over five sets. Freshman Shytasia Williams (Middletown, CT/Mercy) followed up her career-night in USJ's win on Thursday vs. Becker with an even better performance, leading USJ in kills with a new career-high mark of 15.
The Blue Jays dropped the opening set 25-22. The Mustangs (6-10, 0-3 GNAC) raced out to an early 10-5 lead in the opener on the back of freshman Alexa Galluci (North Stonington, CT/Wheeler) who had three early service aces. The Blue Jays responded though and following a timeout out rattled off a 7-0 run to take over the lead 12-10. Sophomore Miah Giarnese (Torrington, CT/Torrington fueled the surge with three kills. Both teams would battle back and forth for the remainder of the set until Mount Ida closed the set with a 4-1 run to take it 25-22.
USJ would answer the slow start however, and dominated the ensuing two sets winning them both by a score of 25-11 to take a 2-1 lead. Each set featured clutch kills from different players to propel the Blue Jays into the lead. In the second set senior Cassandra Grimaldi (Manchester, CT/Manchester) and junior Hannah Lemek (Bristol, CT/Bristol Central) each had three kills and in the third set Williams chipped in with five kills, while Grimaldi also added five more. USJ also combined for 13 service aces over the two sets.
In the fourth set, the Blue Jays got off to a slow start similar to the opening set and saw themselves trailing early, 10-3. Three kills by junior Mary Kate Reidy (Agawam, MA/Agawam) jumped the visitors ahead. USJ would battle back and get within 13-11 and force a Mount Ida timeout, but a 7-1 run out of the timeout would be enough to force a fifth set as the Mustangs held on for a 25-20 fourth set win.
The Blue Jays never trailed in the final set, holding a one-to-three point edge throughout the entirety of the set. A service ace by Buckley followed by a Giarnese kill sealed the victory at the end for the Blue and Gold.
Williams had a career-high and game-high 15 kills in the win. Grimaldi joined her in double-digit kills with 10. Sophomore setter Brenna Miller (McCleary, WA/Elma) broke the 40-assist mark for the first time this season with a season-high 41 assits.
Defensively, Demetria Eiger (Phoenix, AZ/Cactus Shadows) had a game-high 22 digs. Buckley added 16 digs and Lemek finished with a block solo and two block assists.
Match 2 - USJ 2, Bard 3
After dropping the first two sets of the match, the Blue Jays battled back to force a fifth set, but eventually fell to the Bard College Raptors, 3-2. USJ fell 21-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-20, 8-15 in the five setter. Miller posted her fourth consecutive 30+ assist match finishing with 35 in the setback.
Bard College (4-16, 0-8 Liberty) took the first two sets 25-21, 25-18. Sophomore Sofia Koukia (Athens, Greece/Athens College) powered the Raptors tallying five kills over the opening two sets.
USJ came storming bach though and won the next two sets 25-21, 25-20. Buckley, Lemek and Williams ignited the comeback as they led the team in kills during sets three and four.
However, in the fifth and final set the Raptors used a late push to derail the dramatic comeback and won the final set 15-8 and match 3-2. With the final set tied 5-5, Bard would close out the match on a 10-3 run for the victory. Junior Philippine Alba (San Francisco, CA/San Francisco Waldorf School) had a pair off kills before junior Alexis Akingbade (Los Angeles, CA/Crossroads) ended the match with a kill.
Buckley led the Blue Jays witha team-high 11 kills. She also added three service aces and eight digs. Miller had 11 digs to go with her 35 assists and Eiger posted her second straight 20+ dig match with 20 digs.
The USJ volleyball team will return to action next on Tuesday Oct. 4 when they travel to Trinity for a 7 p.m. match