by David F.P. [Modest Image Gallery]
BRIDGEPORT, CT- The New Haven Chargers and the Bridgeport Purple Knights clashed in an out of conference but fierce contest on UB’s campus Thursday night. The result was a narrow UNH victory 3 sets to 2.
The Chargers took set 1 with a big lead picking up the victory as Kristy Atufunwa spiked it over to end the set 25-16. But set 2 would be a closer affair, as Bridgeport led 13 to 12, before embarking on a short scoring run. New Haven gave chase, but Bridgeport kept ahead until late. The Chargers narrowed their deficit to only one point, first 23-22, and then 24-23. But a cross court spike from UB’s Biljana Savic ended the set and narrowed the match at 1 set apiece. On the team’s went to set 3 and continued the close scoring. The teams were tied 15-15 when the Purple Knights gained a two point advantage, only to end up down 2 after a 4-0 UNH scoring streak. The two teams continued to go back and forth and again tied at 21 and later 23-23. But the Chargers leapt ahead to take the set when Keidy Candelaria’s cross court kill, was followed by a serve by Kaulana Ane that went unreturned to end the set 25-23.
The two squads picked up right where they left off, rallying to an 8-8 tie. But UB would take advantage scoring 12 more points while UNH put up only 3 for a 20-11 lead. New Haven didn’t go away though and closed the gap to 4 with an unanswered run. But UB closed the door quickly to take the set 25-18. Darsel Springer was the last to score for the Knights with a cross court kill. The match was now even at 2 sets a piece forcing a first to 15 decisive set 5.
The set opened with a spike from Bridgeport’s Ying Shen that landed just in bounds. Candelaria responded for UNH with a kill through the blockers off the floor and into the stands. Each side traded errors to bring things to 2-2. On the ensuing rally, the ball went back and forth a great many times, resulting in great defensive saves to keep the ball in play by Candelaria and Kea-Marie Olaso for the Chargers, and Martina Santia, and Michele Santos for UB, both Purple Knights dived in succession to keep the ball moving at one point. Though Bai Zhang also came up with a dive for UNH to keep the ball going, as did Santia yet again. But Candelaria finally ended the volley with another kill. UB quickly snagged another kill to tie it. But Candelaria’s huge smash regained the lead, and two Purple Knight errors had New Haven up 3, before Kristen Lee added another New Haven point when her wallop bounced off a defender’s hands and outside the lines. An errant New Haven serve gave Bridgeport a point, but Atufunwa blasted the ball over the net to keep the UNH lead intact 8-4. The two teams switched sides, and Bridgeport gave chase. Springer and Santia’s block shut down a UNH attack, but a Purple Knights error followed. Springer than hacked the ball through the blocking line, and UNH spiked out of bounds a play later. Amber Cannady stopped the bleeding with her kill off the touch, though UB’s Sabrina Simas smacked an attack through the blockers. A UNH miscue put Bridgeport only down one and the visitors called time. Candelaria exploded out of the time out with another big spike, but Savic had two straight kills including a hurricaned shot to tie the match 11-11. Candelaria launched a hard spike to regain the lead, and Ashley Dalton and Atufunwa’s block on the ensuing play scored another point. With UNH two points away, an error cut their lead to 1. But Candelaria once again struck and off a UB player the ball went. With set and match on the line the two teams fought for the ball but in the end Candelaria used a lighter touch sending the ball into the middle of the UB area and it eventually fell in. New Haven took the 15-12 set. Though UB had given them a much harder time of things compared to earlier in the season when the Chargers swept the Knights 3-0.