SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – The Mount Holyoke College volleyball team opened its season on Saturday, defeating the University of St. Joseph in the final match of the day, 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-14). The Lyons dropped their morning contest to Western New England University by a 3-0 margin (25-12, 25-22, 25-16). The middle match of the day saw WNE defeat the BlueJays, 3-1 (25-13, 25-21, 20-25, 25-20).
Mount Holyoke is now 1-1 on the season, while the Golden Bears are 2-1 and the BlueJays move to 1-2 overall.
The last match of the afternoon saw the Lyons grab their first win of 2016, paced by a match-high 12 kills from sophomore middle hitter Joy Maran (Santa Fe, N.M./Santa Fe Prep). In the opening set, the Lyons jumped out to a 20-15 advantage on a service ace from Maran, but the BlueJays battled back with a 6-0 run paced by three straight service aces from first year outside hitter Jasmine Buckley (Beacon, N.Y./Beacon) to make it 21-all.
An attacking error by the Lyons gave the visitors the lead, but three straight errors from St. Joseph and a service ace by senior setter Natalie Lyon (Oakton, Va./Flint Hill School) sealed the 25-22 set win.
Following a 25-16 second set win, Mount Holyoke looked to seal its first win of the year in strong fashion, breaking open a close margin with a 5-0 run. Lyon keyed the effort with three straight aces. Another four-point run put MHC up by a 21-13 margin and the Lyons held on down the stretch for the win.
In addition to Maran, who also had two aces, four digs and two block assists, the Lyons saw first year middle hitter Sasha Simine (Kitchener, Ont./Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute) add six kills, two block solo and three block assists. Lyon boasted a match-high 26 assists with nine digs. For USJ, Buckley added six kills with nine digs, while sophomore setter Brenna Miller (McCleary, Wash./Elma) had 14 assists.
Holding a 1-0 lead after the opening set of the morning contest, Western New England came out swinging in the second frame and led by a 12-9 margin following a kill by first year middle hitter Cassandra Holmes (Ellington, Conn./Ellington). The Lyons battle back, going on a 7-0 run to grab the 16-12 lead. Sophomore middle hitter Jamesa Allen (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) led the way with a pair of kills.
A pair of attacking errors shifted momentum back in the visitors favor as the Golden Bears knotted the score at 17-all. The two teams continued a back-and-forth battle, but WNE broke free of a 22-all tie as an MHC service error and kills from junior outside hitter Alona Kornberg (Fair Lawn, N.J./Fair Lawn) and Holmes sealed the set two win.
In the final set, the Lyons found themselves in striking distance down 20-13 when three consecutive errors by WNE slimmed the margin to four points (20-16). The Golden Bears took advantage of several MHC errors and junior outside hitter Emmaline Chiodini (St. Louis, Mo./Ritenour) laid down a pair of service aces to end the match.
Moran and Allen led the team with seven kills, while Lyon led the team with 20 assists. For WNE, Holmes posted a match-high eight kills, while junior defensive specialist Brianna Roath (Jackson, N.J./Jackson Memorial) had a match-best 12 digs.
The middle match saw WNE post the 3-1 victory over the BlueJays. Leading the way for the Golden Bears was junior outside hitter Sam Heffer (Bethpage, N.Y./Plainedge), who had nine kills. Senior setter Jenna Leuk (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) recorded a match-high 30 assists. For USJ, senior middle hitter Cassandra Grimaldi (Manchester, Conn./Conard) set the pace with nine kills, while Miller (McCleary, Wash./Elma) garnered 27 assists.
MHC returns to the court on Tuesday when it hosts the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) at 7:00pm. Western New England also returns to action on Tuesday against Wheaton at 7pm, while St. Joseph is home against Pine Manor on Thursday at 7pm.