Volleyball Splits in Season Opener; Allen's 19-kills Lead Lyons

Action photo of volleyball player, Jamesa Allen

HENNIKER, N.H. – Powered by a match-high 19 kills from senior captain Jamesa Allen, the Mount Holyoke College volleyball team defeated New England College, 3-1 on Friday evening. The Lyons shouldered a 3-0 loss to Wentworth Institute of Technology in the first match of the day. MHC is now 1-1 on the young season.

The nightcap saw MHC garner its first victory of the 2018 campaign against the host Pilgrims. After falling by a tough 27-25 margin in the opening set, the Lyons battled back with a vengeance, earning a close 25-21 set to tie the match at 1-all. The third set saw MHC down early, but the visitors pushed back as a kill from junior middle hitter Sasha Simine (Kitchener, Ont./Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute) set off a 4-0 run to give the Lyons a 13-12 advantage.

Both squads would tie twice more before the Lyons pulled ahead on a 5-0 run which saw kills from senior captain and middle hitter Jamesa Allen (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) and sophomore setter Brayden Walden (McKinney, Texas/McKinney North) to grab a 22-15 lead. Down the stretch, the Lyons continued to capitalize on errors to gain a 2-1 match advantage.

The Lyons once again battled from behind in the fourth set, grabbing a 16-15 lead behind a service ace from senior libero Cameron Graham (Sarasota, Fla./The Out of Door Academy). Back-to-back kills from senior captain and right side Sarah Caggiano (Leonardtown, Md./Leonardtown) further built up the MHC lead, culminating in strikes by first year outside hitter Sarah Bishop (Rutland, Mass./Wachusett Regional) and Allen to secure the win.

In addition to Allen's match-high kills, she also added two block solos and a block assist. Caggiano had 12 kills with three service aces and nine digs, while Simine was the third Lyon in double figures with 10 kills, two digs and a match-best three block solos. Walden posted 38 assists in the contest, while Graham and Bishop added 11 and 10 digs, respectively.

In the opening match of the evening, the Lyons trailed 1-0 following the first frame, but battled back in the second. MHC closed a five-point deficit to 8-6 behind two kills from Bishop, followed by a strike from Allen and an attacking error on the Leopards, to make it a 14-13 margin. Despite the momentum, the Lyons were unable to grab the lead as Wentworth recorded five of the six final points of the set to take a 2-0 advantage in the match.

MHC went up 2-1 in the third as Allen laid down a kill, but the Leopards capitalized on a Lyons' error for a 7-6 score. Simine countered to tie it up (7-all), but a 9-0 run gave Wentworth a 17-8 lead. The Lyons pulled it to within five (20-15), but back-to-back kills ahead of two service aces from Jade Iadarola helped close out the match.

For MHC, Simine notched a match-best nine kills and two block solos. Allen added six kills, two block solos and a block assist, while Bishop had two kills, three digs and two block assists in her collegiate debut. Graham notched a match-high 13 digs, while Walden contributed a match-best 19 assists.

The Lyons return to the court on Tuesday when it hosts the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) at 7pm in the Mildred S. Howard Gymnasium.