By David F.P. [CCSU 2009 Volleyball Modest Image Gallery]
NEW BRITAIN, CT- A key Northeast Conference match up between the Robert Morris Colonials and the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils unfolded on CCSU’s home gym last evening going all the way to five sets before it was decided. Linda Sagnelli’s Blue Devils had had their conference undefeated streak snapped by Long Island two weeks ago followed by a conference loss to Sacred Heart, but a win over Fairleigh Dickinson with a out of conference loss to Rhode Island also occurring within that span. Rob Thomas’s Colonials arrived with 6-3 conference record compared to Central’s 7-2 and both are one of four teams in the NEC with a winning conference record. Although Central won their last meeting on the road, RMU would pick up the win giving both teams the same record in NEC play.
As usual with my recaps, it is much easier to note the offensive plays, but I try to note defensive plays when I have the opportunity to as defense is plenty important just harder to chronicle.
When I arrived from the recently finished UConn game in East Hartford the teams were locked in a battle late in set 1 with Robert Morris mounting a comeback against a slight CCSU lead. The Colonials tied the score up at 23, and each team traded points to the 25-25 mark, before RMU took control with two straight points to win the set and take a 1-0 lead.
Set opened with Central racing out to a 7-2 lead thanks to a Tori Vaughan spike just in bounds, a Emily Cochran service ace which ricochetedoff a defender and out of play, an RMU attack out of play, a Blaike King and Vaughan tandem block, a King attack which was not returned, Sara DeLacey whapping down an attack, another point followed, and the Colonials spiked out of bounds following one of their time outs. They put up points when Central couldn’t return two of their attacks during their run. Central served into the net to make the score 7-3 and ending that particular run.
The two teams settled into trading points back and forth as Cochran launched a kill that the blockers could not stop, despite a good diving save by Corinne Moser earlier in the volley, but Charla Drabant came back with a kill just in bounds down the line, though a Colonial error of some kind kept the Blue Devil lead at 5. Hannah Veith than whammed a shot in, but a later attack by RMU hit the net, RM13 stepped in and delivered a kill but a serve out of bounds kept the Colonials from making any ground. Central served out of bounds again, but Cochran’s spike kept the lead at 5, 12-7. Lindsey Monger sent her attack of the blue and white’s block attempt and out of play, and Amanda Graham’s attack bounced off the one hand a CCSU defender could put on it to make a scoring beachhead. She then added another kill from the net, after her teammate’s Drabant good defensive save earlier. Central called a time out with the score now 12-10. When play resumed they scored a point of their own, though Graham and Monger responded with a block, but Central added another point and a visitor attack out of bounds gave them a 4 point lead again.
A Blue Devil spike into the net, and a positive Veith rocket (following a good save by Nicole Wiechecki) cut the lead back to 2, but Central’s attack off the blockers and another Cochran kill got the lead back up to 17-13. Drabant’s unleashed a kill which hit a defender’s dig hard, flew back over and out of play, but Cochran had a hammered ball of our own over, and RMU committed a lift error responding to a Vaughan attack, followed by an antenna contact, and a spike out of play, and a block attempt which knocked an attack out of play. The score was now 22-14. When an errant RMU pass sailed over the net Cochran whacked the overpass home, and following a good dig by Danielle Gasser, a teammate hit a kill in as well. RMU responded with a Veith and RM13’s block, and R2’s tap over led to a miscue by the D. Moser had another defensive save, and another point came the Colonials way, but Vaughan launched a kill just in bounds to end the set 25-17. Robert Morris 1, Central Connecticut 1.
Robert Morris blasted out of the gate in set 3 and managed to get the score to a 4-10 lead but Central battled back bringing the score eventually to a 19-19 tie.
RMU picked up their points through an Graham spike just in bounds and later she and RM13 teamed up on a block, RM13 added a wallop which sent the ball off the home team way out of bounds, Veith and RM13 had two tandem blocks in a row, Alyssa Bennett did a fake set and put the ball into a gap, A Central spike out of bounds, Veith ended a battle at the net for the ball with a big spike, Jessy Nelko sent a kill to the back gap, CC18 had a kill just in bounds, Veith’s smash from the net, Central served into the net, and later out of bounds, RM13’s cross court smash into a gap, Graham’s service ace when a defender’s dig failed, RM13’s huge kill flew off a Central dig, bounced back over the net and out of bounds, Monger’s smash, a Colonial kill to the defense’s corner, and Nelko’s kill.
Central’s scoring came mainly off, a Central attack which somehow dropped in when RMU had a miscue, this was following Cochran and Amanda Bayer diving to the floor and the ball managing to bounce of their hands instead of the floor and keep in play. DeLacey tapped to a gap in the defense, a Colonial serve into the net, a visitor attack out of play, a four contact error on RMU despite a good defensive save by Monger, Robert Morris was unable to set up Jamie Baumert’s service (not sure if it was directly an ace), the visitors served into the net, DeLacey’s one handed whack, Kaitlin Petrella’s spike, a two contacts error on RMU despite a good diving save by Moser earlier, a RMU spike into the net, King kill, and another spike off the blockers, Baumert spike which hit a dig flew back over and out ot bounds, Baumert’s serve went unreturned, Vaughan’s spike, and a tap attack after that, and Bayer’s service ace.
At the 19-19 mark Robert Morris called a time out and emerged from it with CC4’s kill off the blockers, and Central’s two attacks out of bounds put RMU up by 3 and led to a Blue Devil time out. A net violation on CCSU followed, but RMU spiked out of bounds as well. Graham and RM13’s tandem block was not returned by the home team, though a two hit contact error was called on Robert Morris on the next play despite a great save by Monger. Petrella then sent a serve sailing over for an ace, and the Colonials spiked out of bounds. RMU called another time out and it worked as RM13’s blast ended the set 23-25. Robert Morris 2, Central Connecticut 1.
Set 4 began with both teams volleying to a 12-12 tie.
CCSU’s points resulted from Bayer’s service ace, a spike out of play by RMU, a net violation on the Colonials, a spike into the net by RMU, Baumert and Bayer’s block, some sor tof RMU attack error, a Colonail attack out of bounds, King’s smash, and Cochran’s service ace which hit the net and dropped to the floor, a visitors miscue on a return, a King kill, and a spike into the net by the Colonials followed by a great save by Bayer.
RMU scoring consisted of a Central serve into the net, a spike out of bounds by the Blue Devils despite a good diving say by Petrella, Veith’s rocket of a spike off a set, another point followed, Graham’s tap in, a Wiechecki, service ace, RM13’s big blast of a kill, Graham’s service ace when Central miscued the return, and Veith and RM13’s block following a good defensive save by Graham, a Central Serve into the net, and a spike out of bounds by the Blue Devils.
Central Connecticut proceeded to go on a run with a DeLacey big spike, King’s tip over, an RMU attack out of bounds, Gasser’s fake set which she put into a gap, and Baumert’s attack following a great save by Cochran. RMU picked up a point to make it 17-13, but Central was on a roll. They scored again when RMU served out of bounds, Drabant fired back with a kill off the blocker’s fingertips, but a Baumert put down and a visitor attack out of play kept the lead at 6, 20-14. A time out was called, and Graham delivered a kill though a net violation negated the gain, though a Central miscue opened the door again, but Cochran’s big time kill closed it again. Two Central attacks out of play lowered the lead to 4, but DeLacey’s spike extended it, although a Central serve out of bounds narrowed it again. King’s kill had CCSU within 1 of the win 24-19, but RU18’s kill and RU4’s point kept their teams alive until Bayer’s smash to the corner won it 25-21. Robert Morris 2, Central 2.
Thus the match moved to the tie-breaking set 5. A fast dash to 15 points. Robert Morris leaped out to a lead of 0-4 with two Graham blocks and two kills from her as well, despite a good dig by King and a good save by Vaughan. CCSU got on the board with a Cochran and Vaughan block, though a RM13 and Graham block kept the lead at 4, and a spike out of bounds by the Blue Devil added to the deficit only to have Vaughan and DeLacey’s block come back for a point. Graham responded with a kill off the fingertips of the defense, but King’s smash hit the blockers and dropped forward, and an RMU net violation followed. Central served into the net and the score was 4-8 as the two sides switched places.
King struck again with a kill off the block, though Monger’s kill, and Nelko and Veith’s block after a great save by RM13 extended the lead and Monger’s service ace put the score at 5-11. Central called another time out and Cochran’s kill and Baumert’s ace cut the lead. Bennett responded with a put over, but an attack error brought the score to 8-12. Following a good defensive play by Bayer, Cochran whacked the ball to the defense’s corner and a RMU spike out of play brought the affair to 10-12. Bennett attacked again for a point, but Cochran and King’s kill, as well as a DeLacey and Vaughan block erased the deficit and the score was 13-13 leading to an RMU time out.
The Colonials regained the lead with Graham and RM13’s tandem block, but Vaughan responded with a kill. Central hit into the net on the ensuing play though, and RM13’s blast ended it 14-16. Robert Morris wins the match 3-2 in a hard fought contest.
Of additional note was despite or maybe as a result of the football game played next door earlier in the day the fans were sparse for Central. In fact Robert Morris had other teams in the area and both the Field Hockey and Soccer teams arrived in the gym to loudly cheer on their fellow team, equaling the number of Blue Devil faithful in the arena. It was rare to find a loud cheering section for either side at these games, though that generally varies by match. Still both teams continue to show they’re two of the top teams in the NEC with Sacred Heart looming and the currently dominant Long Island sitting at the top.