WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - Double-doubles by sophomore Hannah Benson (Terryville, Conn.) and freshman Nyah Young (Swansea, Mass.) led the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) volleyball team to a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) win over intrastate and conference foe Albertus Magnus College (AMC), 3-1, Wednesday evening inside the O'Connell Center. With the victory, the Blue Jays improve to 9-12 overall on the season and 2-8 in the GNAC, while the Falcons drop to 8-17 and 1-7.
Score: Saint Joseph 3, Albertus Magnus 1 (25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 25-23)
Records: Saint Joseph (9-12, 2-8 GNAC) | Albertus Magnus (8-17, 1-7 GNAC)
In the opening set, the Blue Jays raced out to a commanding 6-0 lead and never looked back as they didn't trail at any point in game one. Albertus Magnus got on the board with three straight points after USJ's fast start to trim the gap to 6-3, but a block assist from sophomore Nina Lestrud (Torrington, Conn.) and freshman Shannon Carey (Bayport, N.Y.) followed by a solo block by Carey bumped the USJ lead up to 8-3 and forced an AMC timeout.
The Falcons scored out of the timeout, but the Blue Jays responded with five straight points to take a big lead, 13-4. AMC tried to claw back into it and used a 6-1 spurt to make things interesting, 14-10, but the Blue Jays answered with the next three points to regain control of the set, 17-10.
Once again the visitors faught back with a 5-1 run to pull within three, 18-15, late in the set. However, whenever it seemed like the Blue Jays needed a big point, they went to Benson and she delivered, hammering home a kill to swing the momentum back to Saint Joseph, 19-15.
Albertus Magnus kept the pressure on and got a big kill from senior Ashley Davis (West Islip, N.Y.) to get as close as two points, 23-21, but it was too little, too late, and a kill from sophomore Emonnie Weston (Hamden, Conn.) followed by a kill from junior captain Aminah Tsonga (Plainville, Conn.) closed out the set in favor of the hosts, 25-21.
AMC flipped the script to start the second set and this time it was the Falcons who raced out to an early lead, 7-2, and forced USJ to burn a quick timeout. The pep talk worked as the Blue Jays came out of the break and used a 5-0 run to level the match, 7-7, capped by a block assist by Weston and Carey.
Both teams would trade points all the way up to 18-all before USJ broke free with a three-point swing to jump ahead, 21-18. The run was capped by another monster kill from Benson and forced the Falcons to take a timeout.
Out of the breather the Falcons would regroup and kept it tight late in the set, but once again when the Blue Jays needed a point they called Benson's number and she pounded home a pair of clutch kills to push USJ's lead to 23-21. It would be close, but USJ had just enough breathing room as a kill from Carey closed out second set, 25-23, to give the Blue Jays a commanding 2-0 lead.
The third set would be all Falcons as they would not go down quietly, looking to make an improbable comeback. They would never trail after they sped out to an early 11-3 lead and forced a USJ timeout. Saint Joseph would get as close as five points a couple times in the set, but a kill from freshman Diana Kalman (Naugatuck, Conn.) iced the game to make it 2-1 in favor of the hosts.
Set four featured multiple runs by both squads. Albertus Magnus would jump out of the gate once again and led 7-2, forcing USJ to call a timeout as Kalman was heating up with a pair of kills early on. Saint Joseph rebounded though with a huge run, 10-2, to take its first lead of the set, 13-9. USJ took advantage of some AMC miscues and two big kills by senior Lauren Pelletier (South Windsor, Conn.) highlighted the spurt.
Albertus Magnus regained the lead, 15-14, and would go on to build its lead to as big as three, 19-16, after a kill from David, looking to force a decisive fifth set. However, the Blue Jays had other ideas as they battled back with the next four points to take back the lead, 20-19, capped by back-to-back huge kills from Benson.
Down the stretch AMC went to freshman outside hitter Peyton Davis (North Haven, Conn.) and USJ went to Tsonga as they each went back and forth with two kills each, but USJ maintined a slight edge, 23-22. A clutch kill from AMC's Jesselle Guzman (El Paso, Texas) tied it at 23-all, but the Blue Jays defended home court and a Shannon kill followed by Tsonga ace provided the game-winning points. 25-23 USJ in the fourth set to take the match 3-1.
Benson led the way for the Blue Jays posting her fifth double-double of the season with a match-high 14 kills to go with 17 digs. She hit an impressive .273 in the win. Young also notched a double-double with 37 assists and 12 digs. Tsonga chipped in with 13 kills and Carey added 10, while freshman libero Natalia Rabassa (Juana Diaz, P.R.) finished with 12 digs.
Davis, Kalman, and David paced Albertus Magnus with eight kills each as Davis hit .211 for the Falcons in the setback. Guzman posted a match-high 22 digs.
USJ returns to the O'Connell Center for a GNAC tri-match on Saturday as they host Suffolk and Rivier. The Blue Jays will faceoff with Suffolk at 11:00 a.m. before taking on Rivier at 3:00 p.m.