By D.F. Pendrys
NEW HAVEN, CT – The Southern Connecticut State Owls volleyball contingent defeated a tough Felician team 3 to 1 Saturday afternoon.
The first started with Felician gaining an early advantage thanks to an early run as Bridget Thompson and Hannah Chiswick sandwiched their kills around two SCSU attack errors to make the score 8-3 and leading to a time out by Southern. The Owls then proceeded to climb back out of the hole steadily though Felician kept them at bay maintaining some sort of lead until Abigail Epstein spiked the ball off the defender’s hands to the floor to tie the set at 16. Felician regained a lead briefly only to have SCSU tie it up again. The visitors would edge ahead and then two SCSU errors would bring the score to 22-19 and SCSU called their last time out.
This momentarily killed the momentum and the Owls again were back within 1, but Maddie Sloan smacked her kill off the Southern blockers sideways for 24-22 lead and set point. Gabriela Vazquez responded for SCSU spiking through the opposing block, and then on the next point launching the ball off an opponent and into the back wall of the gym to tie the set back up. Krishnalei So’oto then served up an Ace to give Southern the lead and a set point. Felician called time out and succeeded in averting the set loss momentarily as the next SCSU serve was an error and Chiswick launched a kill to regain the lead. Layla Cortez and Epstein responded with two kills for the Owls however and Lillee Olson’s service Ace ended the set 28-26.
Set 2 was a far more even contest where Felician did get small leads early on, SCSU was still keeping pace and the two teams both were tied at 22. Though a Felician attack error gave Southern the advantage and resulted in a Felician time out. Vazquez blasted the ball off a defender’s dig attempt to bring on set point, but the visitors averted the loss after Southern attacked out of play and Chiswick delivered a kill to tie it. The team’s traded points back and forth to the 28-28 mark, but this time Felician took the set as two SCSU attack errors resulted in the points needed to win the set 30-28.
Set 3 began even but it did not stay that way, as a Felician serve into the net to make it 8-6 touched off a mini run for Southern that was the beginning of the end. Payton Reis then landed her kill just in bounds and Gabriela Gaibur struck with a kill the point after to make it 10-6. Felician got a point back, but Gaibur responded hammering the ball down on the opposing team. Some points were traded but at the 14-9 mark a major run started with five straight SCSU points ensuing thanks to three kills from Vazquez, one from Gaibur, and one from Epstein to make it 18-9. Felician did not by any means to away and climbed back to 19-14 in part due to kills from Chiswick and Alexis Rigdon. Southern even called a time out and allowed Felician just one more point the rest of the set on their march to 25 points. Three kills from Gaibur and a kill from Reis contributed to the effort that got the Owls across the finish line.
After the two early close sets, Set 4 was more like set 3 than anything as the two teams had an early 7-7 tie but then the Owls started building. Before long it was 13-8., and not long after that the score had arrived at 17-11. With the score at 23-13, Felician mounted a last stand of a run. Olivia Anderson picked up a kill, and Chiswick launched a service ace to bring things to 23-15, though SCSU got a point on an error to rise to within one of victory. Maddie Sloan, and Catherine Lentsch each had kills and Lorina Stoycheva served up an ace. With the tally at 24-18 SCSU called time out, though when play resumed Sloan picked up another kill to cut the lead again. That would be as close as they came as Gaibur ended the set and game with a blast on the next point.
SCSU Coach Lisa Barbaro’s squad is now 10-1 on the season. Coach John Chang’s Felician team is now 3-7.
For Felician, Sloan had 15 kills, Chiswick had 11, Lentsch 8, and Olivia Anderson 4. Lentsch hit for .333 percent and Sloan hit for .262. Miquela Martinez had 19 Assists and Rigdon had 13. Sloan had 2 Aces, Alonda Diaz Sanchez, Thompson, Stoycheva and Chiswick all had 1. Chiswick had 20 digs, Diaz Sanchez and Martinez had 16, and Natalie Kashian had 12.
Vazquez led Southern with 18 kills, Gaibur had 14, Epstein had 11, and Reis had 6. Reis hit for .750 percent, Vazquez .441, Gaibur .217, and Epstein .216. Taylor Jones had 38 Assists, and Heliceliz Rivera had 12. Gaibur had 3 Aces, So’oto and Olson had 2, Epstein, Sophia Castellano, and Kacey Deecher had 1.
Epstein had 3 solo blocks and 2 shared blocks. Gaibur and Erika Benson each had 2 shared blocks, Rivera, Reis, Vazquez, and Cortez all had 1 shared block. So’oto had 20 digs, Gaibur had 15, Castellano had 13, and Epstein had 10.