Volleyball Earns Split In Home Opener

Sasha Simine Block

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – The Mount Holyoke College volleyball team split two matches in tri-match action Saturday, defeating Elms College, 3-1 in the opening match, before falling to Simmons College, 3-0 in the final contest of the day. The Blazers earned a 3-1 win over Simmons in the middle match. Overall, the Lyons move to 4-1 on the season. Elms is now 2-3, while the Sharks are 4-3.  

In the opening match against Elms (3-1 W; 21-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-18), the Blazers took control early with an 18-12 lead. The Lyons responded with five unanswered points to bring to game to within one (18-17), but a four-point streak, including the set-winning kill from outside hitter Danielle Redding (Las Vegas, N.V./Bishop Gorman) gave Elms a 1-0 advantage in the match.

In the second set, the teams battled to 21-all until Mount Holyoke scored three straight points to win the set and tie the match at 1-1. Momentum continued into the third set for the Lyons as Mount Holyoke quickly built a double-digit lead. Pacing the effort was junior outside hitter Joy Maran (Santa Fe, N.M./Santa Fe Prep), whose three early service aces helped MHC open a 7-1 lead on its way to the 25-13 set win and a 2-1 lead in the match.  

The Lyons carried the momentum into the final set, opening up a 16-5 advantage following a kill from junior setter Melissa Stewart (San Diego, Calif./Trinity Classical Academy). The Blazers were able to take advantage of several MHC errors, pulling to within eight (23-15) late, but MHC held strong with a pair of kills to close out the 3-1 match victory.

Leading the way for the Lyons was sophomore middle hitter Sasha Simine (Kitchener, Ont./Cameron Heights Collegiate Inst.) and junior right side Sarah Caggiano (Leonardtown, Md./Leonardtown) who had 10 and nine kills, respectively. Defensively, junior middle hitter Jamesa Allen (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) had a game-high six total blocks. Maran finished with five service aces and 14 digs, while first year setter Brayden Walden (McKinney, Texas/McKinney North) and Stewart posted 19 and 17 assists, respectively.

For the Blazers, outside hitters Danielle Redding (Las Vegas, N.V./Bishop Gorman) and Hannah Adams (Deerfield, Mass./Frontier) each had strong games offensively with 16 and 15 kills, respectively. First year setter Dakota Stewart (Victoria, Texas) posted a match-best 36 assists, while Adams and junior defensive specialist Caroline Locke (West Springfield, Mass./West Springfield) each recorded a match-best 16 digs.

In the Lyons second game of the afternoon versus Simmons, (0-3 L; 20-25, 21-25, 21-25), the Sharks came out strong with a 22-15 lead in the first set. MHC scored five of the next seven points, including a kill from Maran and four Simmons errors to close the gap, but the Sharks took the set 25-20 for the 1-0 lead.

Simmons got out to an early advantage once again in the second set, but the Lyons clawed their way back to 24-21 after an attack error by the visitors. Despite the momentum, MHC surrendered the final point on a service error as the Sharks grabbed the 2-0 match advantage.

In the third, and what proved to be final set, the two teams played tough forcing seven ties throughout the set. MHC took a 17-15 advantage following an error and a kill from Allen, but the momentum swung back in the visitors favor. A six-point run, aided by a pair of kills from first year setter Riley Roberge (Peoria, Ariz./Glendale Preparatory Academy), pushed Simmons ahead 21-19. Mount Holyoke once again pulled to within 24-21, but another error proved costly as the Sharks earned the 3-0 match win.

For Simmons, sophomore outside hitter Morgan Weeg (Goodyear, Ariz./Agua Fria) led the match with 21 kills and added six digs, while classmate setter Kenna McCarthy (Shelter Island, N.Y./Shelter Island) had a game-high 23 assists. First year setter Faith Gray-Williams (Las Vegas, N.V./The Meadows School) posted a match-high 14 digs to go along with 14 assists.

For Mount Holyoke, Simine posted eight kills, while Allen led the defensive effort with a match-best seven total blocks. Caggiano had five total blocks and Maran chipped in with three service aces for a total of eight on the day.

Both Mount Holyoke and Simmons are back in action at 7pm on Tuesday as the Lyons open up conference play at Wheaton, while the Sharks travel to Gordon. Elms will play Wednesday at Framingham State at 7pm.