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Benson Collects 600th Kill, USJ Splits Senior Day Tri-Match

Benson Collects 600th Kill, USJ Splits Senior Day Tri-Match

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's volleyball team split a pair of matches Saturday with Norwich University (NOR) and Anna Maria College (ANM) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) home tri-match inside the O'Connell Athletic Center.

In game one, the Blue Jays gave the Cadets all they could handle, despite being unable to win a set in the match. Both teams were tied at 11-all in the first set, before Norwich turned it on with a ferocious offensive attack. The Cadets finished the set on a 14-6 run to take the first stanza, 25-17. In set two, the Blue Jays bounced back and took a 21-18 lead late. Things were looking well until the Cadets rattled off three straight to tie it up. USJ called timeout, but Norwich was able to score four of the last five points to take the second set, 25-22. In the final set, the consistency of the Cadets weighed on the Blue Jays, who were unable to get back into it after Norwich took an early lead. NOR won the third and final set, 25-16.

Before the start of game two, this one against the visiting AMCATS of Anna Maria, the Blue Jays honored their lone senior at center court with a special Senior Day ceremony. Senior captain and outside hitter Hannah Benson (Terryville, Conn.) was accompanied by her parents, and surrounded by her teammates and coaches to celebrate a career full of accolades. Benson, to the delight of the crowd, recorded her 600th career kill in the third set of the second match. She had 24 kills on the day. 

The Blue Jays were off to the races with a domineering start to game two, as the AMCATS were unable to combat the power of the Blue Jays. USJ made quick work of Anna Maria in the first set with a 25-11 win. The second set had a slower start, but the Blue Jays once again took a dominant win overall, claiming a 25-13 triumph over the visitors. A tight third set followed, as the AMCATS kept the score within three late, but the Blue Jays rallied at the end to complete the clean sweep of the series, ending the last set with a 25-19 victory. USJ won five of its last six matches this season.

GAME ONE
Score: Norwich 3, Saint Joseph 0
Set Scores: 17-25, 22-25, 16-25
Records: NOR 14-6 (8-4 GNAC), USJ 8-12 (3-9 GNAC)

GAME TWO

Score: Anna Maria 0, Saint Joseph 3
Set Scores: 11-25, 13-25, 19-25
Records: ANM 7-20 (1-12 GNAC), USJ 9-12 (4-9 GNAC)
Location: O'Connell Center | West Hartford, Conn.

PLAYER QUOTE [Hannah Benson] "God has blessed me tremendously in giving me this team, this coaching staff, and putting me at this school. It's an emotional ride, it's fantastic, and it's something that is going to stick with me for a very long time. It was difficult as a first-year captain, but moving into it and having the guidance of Coach Gisbrecht put me in a really good position. The team really took me in as a leader...if they didn't welcome me, I wouldn't have been successful with it. It is kind of a relief (the 600 kills), but it is something I have been working towards. It wasn't easy, as I was working with new setters and a newer team in general this season. I think jelling and being able to get to 600, it wasn't just me. If it wasn't for my teammates, I wouldn't have even had half of that success."

COACH QUOTE [Sheila Gisbrecht] "Overall it was a great building season. We saw a lot of improvement both individually and just in our offensive and defensive profiles. We learned how to develop a higher volleyball IQ as well...it was huge this year. We learned a lot, and started to really show at the end with some really solid games. I think it was a nice way to finish."

UP NEXT
The tri-match split concludes the season for the Blue Jays under first-year head coach Sheila Gisbrecht. USJ finished the 2021 campaign 9-12 overall and 4-9 in GNAC play, winning five of their last six matches on the year, and will look to build of that success entering 2022.

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