Elise Sage (Greenwood Village, CO) led the offense with 16 kills and a .500 hiting percentage while Christina Bauch (Trabuco Canyon, CA) notched a match high 17 digs as the Pioneers defeated Saint Francis (PA) 3-1 today at the Pitt Center. Ashlyn Trimble (Temecula, CA) also had a solid afternon posting a double-double with 11 kills and 14 digs. Johanna Ovsenek (London, Ontario) had an efficent day attacking with nine kills and only one error for a .333 hitting percentage. The win is the Pioneers 15th in the last 16 matches and 10th straight overall.
Saint Francis (PA) (4-14, 2-3 NEC) used five blocks in the first set to keep the Pioneers off balance, Lauren Wingard led the way with three of those blocks. The Red Flash also hit .314 in the opening stanza, including four kills and no errors from Amanda Zahumensky. The two teams battled back and forth through 13 ties and three lead changes in the first game. SHU held a 23-22 advantage after an Ovsenek kill that forced SFPA to take a timeout. The Red Flash went on to win three straight points, taking the set 25-23, on a Pioneer service error followed by a SFPA service ace and a set point kill from Zahumensky.
Sacred Heart (15-4, 5-0 NEC) took the second set in a game that saw both teams hit below .200. Trimble led the way for the Pioneers with four kills and no errors in the frame. Just like in the opening set a kill from an Ovsenek swing put SHU ahead 23-22 and sent both teams to the benches after a Red Flash timeout. The Pioneers pushed the lead to two points thanks to an attack error from SFPA's Leeanne Haus and went on to win the set 25-23 on a kill from Sage.
Maile Hetherington (Thousand Oaks, CA) dropped in three of her four kills of the afternoon in the third set. Sacred Heart hit a match high .379 in the frame with 13 kills and just two errors. The Pioneers jumped out to an early 15-7 lead in the set on five straight points off of the serve of Sage, including two service aces. Sage also had the final kill of the set, which ended 25-14, with an assist from Courtney Kidd Kadlubek (Santa Barbara, CA). Kidd-Kadlubek, who came into the match ranked 17th in the nation in assists per game, finished the match with 42 total helpers.
The start of the fourth set stayed tight until the Pioneers put together a few points in a row to take a 15-10 advantage, finishing with a service ace from Bauch. But the Red Flash battled back to 15-14 aided by three consecutive swinging errors from Sacred Heart. Saint Francis (PA) finished the comeback and leveled the score at 21-21 on a kill from Kierstin Kiser. However, that would be the Red Flash's last point of the afternoon. Sacred Heart won the final stanza 25-21, and the match 3-1, after kills from Sage and Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) paired with two SFPA attack errors.
The Pioneers return to action tomorrow afternoon at the Pitt Center for a 1:00 pm clash with NEC rival Robert Morris.