WEST HARTFORD, Conn.. – The Mount Holyoke College volleyball team opened up the 2017 season on Saturday, sweeping the University of Saint Joseph (3-1) and UMASS-Dartmouth (3-0) in tri-match action. The victories put the Lyons at 2-0 on the young season.
In the opening match against the host BlueJays, neither team built more than a three-point lead in the first set. Knotted up at 26-all, USJ capitalized on two MHC errors to go up 1-0 in the match. The Lyons bounced back in the second set, getting out to a 23-15 lead after a kill by junior outside hitter Isabell Linde (Red Bank, N.J./Red Bank Catholic). USJ scored two back-to-back points, but the Lyons took the set 25-17 to tie the game at 1-1.
After playing to a 10-10 tie in the third frame, the BlueJays gained momentum with five straight points backed by two service aces from first year libero Janell Molina. Coming back from a 15-10 deficit, Mount Holyoke stormed back to take the advantage, winning the set 25-18 four straight errors and a final kill from junior middle hitter Jamesa Allen (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) to go up 2-1 in the match.
Heading into the eventual deciding set, the Lyons went down 3-1 after an attack error, but a kill from junior outside hitter Joy Maran (Santa Fe, N.M./Santa Fe Prep) gave the visitors the lead which they would not relinquish. The BlueJays kept things tight, trailing by just two (22-20) late, but back-to-back attacking errors and the seventh kill of the match from Allen sealed the 3-1 win.
For the Lyons, sophomore middle hitter Sasha Simine (Kitchener, Ont./Cameron Heights Collegiate) led the squad with a career-high 16 kills to go along with six total blocks. Both Linde and Allen each chipped in with seven kills, while first year setter Brayden Walden (McKinney, Texas/McKinney North) led the team with 17 assists.
For the Blue Jays, junior outside hitter Carly Ruzbasan (Torrington, Conn./Torrington) and Jasmine Buckley (Beacon, N.Y./Beacon) led their squad with 19 and 15 kills respectively, while junior setter Brenna Miller (McCleary, WA/Los Fresnos) had a game-high 36 assists.
Mount Holyoke carried its momentum into game two against UMass-Dartmouth, winning the first set 25-17. The second set was much closer as UMD got out to a hot start with a 4-0 lead after two service aces from sophomore setter Jordan Rittberger (Huntington, N.Y./Harborfields). The Lyons got back on pace, tying the set at 10-all behind a pair of kills from Maran.
The teams were knotted up once again 19-19 before two more Maran kills put MHC up 22-19. UMD got to within one point, but junior right side hitter and captain Sarah Caggiano (Leonardtown, Md./Leonardtown) laid down the final kill to go up 2-0 in the match.
In the third set, the teams found themselves in a 19-all affair once again. This time the Corsairs took control after an MHC serving error, but the Lyons bounced back with three consecutive points, including the winning kill from Caggiano to sweep the match.
Offensively, Caggiano led the Lyons with eight kills and three service aces. Simine also had a strong game with eight kills and two block assists, while Maran added seven kills to go along with eight digs.
For UMD, sophomore Nicole Silverman (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) and junior outside hitter Amanda LaCroix (East Freetown, Mass./Apponequet) each posted double-digit kill efforts with 14 and 11 respectively. Rittberger led the game with 27 assists.\
The Lyons are back on the road on Tuesday, traveling to MCLA for a 7pm tilt. UMass-Dartmouth and the University of Saint Joseph play the final match of the day at 3pm.