SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – Western New England University rallied from a five-point deficit in the fourth set to earn a 3-1 (20-25, 25-19, 25-21, 26-24) victory over Mount Holyoke College in non-conference action on Friday evening at the Howard Gymnasium. With the win, the Golden Bears move to 7-12, while the Lyons slip to 6-9 overall.
Mount Holyoke opened up a solid lead in the fourth set after a kill from senior captain Sarah Caggiano (Leonardtown, Md./Leonardtown) and a service ace from sophomore right side Chelsea Galicia (Los Angeles, Calif./Kiev International School) helped push the home team to a 24-21 advantage.
The Golden Bears started the comeback after a Galicia error on the serve, followed by a kill from junior middle blocker Kierah Parker (Middletown, Conn./Middletown) down the middle. Sophomore outside hitter Hailey McDonnell (Methuen, Mass./Methuen) then laid down a kill which was sandwiched between a pair of service aces from junior outside hitter Ashley Matthews (Salem, N.H./Salem) for the match victory.
The Lyons opened the contest with the set one win, battling back from a 15-13 deficit to tie the match at 16-all behind a kill from senior captain Jamesa Allen (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona). MHC went on a 6-0 run, aided by a pair of strikes from rookie outside hitter Sarah Bishop (Rutland, Mass./Wachusett Regional) for the 21-16 lead.
Western New England pulled the margin back to three (23-20) on kills from junior middle blocker Cassandra Holmes (Ellington, Conn./Ellington) and Matthews, but another Allen kill, followed by a costly error gave the Lyons the 1-0 lead in the match.
It was a tight second set as both teams pulled ahead with advantages early. Despite holding an 8-6 lead, the Lyons were unable to hold off the Golden Bears, who capitalized on several errors and kills from Holmes and Matthews to grab a 14-9 lead. MHC saw Allen lay down another kill to make it a 22-18 margin, but three of the next four points tipped the set in the visitors favor.
The two squads battled once again with another tight one in the third as MHC pulled to 20-19 on a kill from Allen only to have the visitors capitalize with a four-point run, which included a pair of block assists from Holmes to force the fourth set.
Western New England was led by Matthews, who recorded a match-high 17 kills. Holmes added 14 kills to go along with a team-high four block assists, while McDonnell added 10 kills and 10 digs with two block assists. First year defensive specialist Caleigh McDermott (Oakdale, N.Y./St. John the Baptist Diocesan) had 18 digs, while sophomore setter Jenna McCormack (Nashua, N.H./Bishop Guertin) posted a match-high 35 assists.
For Mount Holyoke, Allen notched 13 kills and a match-high five block assists with a block solo. Junior middle hitter Sasha Simine (Kitchener, Ont./Cameron Heights Collegiate Instiute) had 12 kills and two block assists. Senior libero Isabell Linde (Red Bank, N.J./Red Bank Catholic added a match-high 19 digs, while sophomore setter Brayden Walden (McKinney, Texas/McKinney North) had 32 assists.
Mount Holyoke returns to action on Tuesday when it travels to Springfield for a 7pm NEWMAC contest against the Pride. Western New England is back on the court on Wednesday, hosting Smith at 7pm.