Hamden, CT - Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) paced the SHU women's volleyball team with a match-high 13 kills in a 3-0 sweep of in-state rival Quinnipiac Sunday afternoon. The win is the 19th straight for the Pioneers and moves Sacred Heart to a perfect 12-0 in Northeast Conference action and secures a fourth straight plyaoff berth for the program.
Sacred Heart (24-4, 12-0 NEC) exploded out to an 11-3 cushion in the first set, winning five consecutive points on the serve of Courtney Kidd-Kadlubek (Santa Barbara, CA). Kidd-Kadlubek also notched a match-high 37 assists as the Pioneers swung at a .312 clip for the afternoon. The Bobcats refused to go quietly and put the set back within reach, cutting the SHU advantage to 20-15. The Pioneers held the home team at bay and junior Maile Hetherington (Thousand Oaks, CA) slammed home one of her four kills to end the first set 25-19 in favor of Sacred Heart.
Quinnipiac (6-19, 4-7 NEC) made five miscues in the first seven points of the middle stanza to stake the Pioneers to an early 7-0 advantage. Back-to-back service aces from Kidd-Kadlubek increased the lead to 12-3 as the Pioneers went on to cruise to a 25-16 victory. Sacred Heart hit .357 in the frame as Mercado supplied five kills without making an error. Christina Bauch (Trabuco Canyon, CA) notched five digs in the set as the freshman led the SHU defense with 12 for the match.
The Bobcats pulled ahead 4-3 in the opening stages of the third set but Sacred Heart came roaring back and ultimately gained a 14-8 lead. The Pioneers held Quinnipiac to just five kills while forcing six errors in the set, a -.042 hitting percentage. SHU used a pair of 4-0 spurts and eventually finished off the third set 25-13 to claim a victory and a spot in the 2010 Northeast Conference tournament. The Pioneers can clinch a regular season championship and #1 seed in the playoffs with a win next Saturday on the road against Robert Morris.
The women's volleyball team returns to action this Tuesday to close the non-conference portion of the schedule at home against Columbia at 7:00 pm.