By David F.P. [Modest Image Gallery]
FAIRFIELD, CT- It would take five sets, and extra points in two of those sets to settle it, but the Rutgers Scarlet Knights narrowly defeated the Brown Bears in midday action at the SHU tournament on Saturday. The Ivy League Bears, coached by Diane Short, took on CJ Werneke’s Big East residing team in each team’s first match of the day.
In Set 1 the two teams volleyed to a 6-6 tie to start things off. This included RU’s Alex Jones picked up the first kill of the game, Brown’s Annika Gliottone served up an early ace, and Hannah Curtis of Rutgers had a kill from the net. The two continues trading points including RU’s Sofi Cucuz adding a kill just in bounds. The score was soon tied at 10-10, though RU started to build a little lead thanks to a some light tap points from Jones and Curtis, but Brown tied it back up at 14.
A light block from Emma Pastore of Brown helped her team take a 14-17 lead. Rutgers started to try to claw back but Brown kept going, with Maddie Lord adding a smash through the defense, Kathryn Glickman picking up a block, and Lord striking yet again to get the score to 17-21. Rutgers tried to get back into it, but a Thea Derrough kill which flew off the RU defenders got her team another point and helped keep the lead at 3. Jones and Cucuz picked up a late block for the Knights, but it would eventually be Lord’s service ace that ended the set 20-25 to give Brown a 1-0 lead.
In set 2, Rutgers started off with a bang thanks to 3 quick points, and after a Brown score, Brittany Bozzini picked up what would be one of many kills to make it 4-1. Brown closed things up to 5-5, but a Jones spike regained the lead, though momentarily. The teams traded points to 9-9 including kills from Bozzini and Lord. Four straight RU points made the score 13-9 though, though Derrough broke the run to cut the lead to 1, but that was as close as Brown would get in this set as Rutgers kept rolling including another kill by Bozzini, a block from Stephanie Zielinski and Jones, and other kills. When Bozzini came up with a solo block for the 22nd team point they had a 22-17 lead. Another 3 points later and Rutgers had the set 25-17.
A 7-7 tie began set 3, Zielinski had a good defensive save early on, Lord picked up 3 separate kills in the midst of the early points, Cucuz had a kill as well, and Sheridan Taylor added a cross court smash. Brown however started a run including Emma Pastore’s tap in, and two straight aces from Alexandra Rieckhoff, and by the time Pastore added another tap attack the score was 7-14. Rutgers stopped the run, but Brown picked up a few points, no surprise that Lord was involved, and it was 11-17. RU closed the gap with two points from Cucuz and a shot from Jones. Now it was 15-17, but Lord struck again. The teams traded points a bit though Cucuz and Taylor brought the Knights within 1 and a Brown miscue tied the score at 19. The score was soon 20-20, but Brown took the reins of the set with Glickman and Pastore picking up a block, and Glickman a kill right after. Pastore ended the set with a tap and Brown had a 2-0 lead thanks to the 25-21 score.
Thus came Set 4, which would be quite a back and forth to say the least. The two teams reached a 10-10 tie. For Rutgers part of this came from a rocket from Jones, a smash from Cucuz, a huge kill from Curtis, another big kill from Bozzini, and one from Taylor as well. For Brown, Lord started off their scoring, later on Pastore had a big hit of her own, Glickman and Lord shared a block, Amanda Nickel had two kills as well.
Rutgers built a little lead for themselves including Curtis crashing a ball through the blockers, and it was soon 17-14. but the Bears didn’t let that stand, and Taylor Bantle’s blast from net brought her team within 1. Jones responded and another Rutgers point followed, but Bantle hammered the ball over and an RU error kept the Bears within 1. Jones teed a blast up again, but Nickel rocked a kill off a Rutgers player and into the seats. A tandem blocked followed, and then another Nickel attack gave Brown the lead 20-21. Rutgers responded to tie it up and Curtis launched a cross court attack. Pastore responded, and the teams kept going until a 24-24 tie. Glickman tapped over for a lead, but it was short lived. Curtis gave Rutgers the lead with an ace, but Glickman replied. The score was soon 27-27.
Bozzini found a corner to launch the ball into and RU had the lead again, but only until Lord could get Brown’s 28th point, but that would be it as Rutgers picked up a kill and Jones served up an ace for the 30-28 victory.
With the sets tied at 2, it was time for a deciding set 5. Rutgers exploded to an early 7-3 lead. Jones not surprisingly had a kill, Bozzini had a service ace, and Jones and Zielinski shared a block, before Jones had yet another smash. Scoring for Brown included kills from from Nickel and Lord.
Brown was not dead yet and they clawed back to an 11-11 tie. Lord, Nickel and Pastore all had big kills in various ways in respond to Hannah Curtis picking up two kills, as did Bozzini.
Rutgers regained the lead only to have Lord tie it up again with a missile threaded through the blocking line. Two Rutgers attack errors gave Brown a new lead, but Jones had a pair of kills to take care of that. Lord struck again, but so did Jones,. The score was soon 17-17 of a set meant to go to 15, but a kill would follow and a Brown attack error and that was that. 19-17 Rutgers took the set and the match.
Rutgers would have a wait before taking on Sacred Heart, but Brown had a brief layover before they would face Hartford.
Editor’s Note: This is based on notes taken at the match, normally verified against the official play by play if possible. Reports focus on offense since it is easier to track but note defensive play whenever possible. Also, a lot happens in a volleyball game, far more than can fit into a report, so this just notes some of it.