Ashlyn Trimble (Temecula, CA) posted a match-high 14 kills to lead the SHU women's volleyball to a 3-1 win over Columbia Tuesday night at the Pitt Center. The victory improves the Pioneer winning streak to 20 and moves the team to 13-0 at home. Jessica Colberg (Long Beach, CA) delivered a fantastic performance along the backline recording 24 digs in the four set match.
Sacred Heart (25-4) jump out to an early 4-0 cushion as Christina Bauch (Trabuco Canyon, CA) slammed home two of her four total kills in the opening moments. Elise Sage (Greenwood Village, CO) was a dominant force in the first set tallying six kills on 11 attempts. The Lions found a groove later in the set and cut a 16-10 SHU lead to 19-18 on the strength of an 8-3 surge. Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) got Sacred Heart back on track with one of her 10 kills. The freshman outside hitter also tallied 20 digs to record a double-double for the match. Sage put in the last two points of the set as SHU took the opening frame 25-19.
Columbia (14-7) responded to dropping the first set by taking an 8-3 lead in the second stanza. The Lions notched four blocks, two each from Heather Braunagel and Alexandra Freschet, that proved to be difference in the game. The Pioneers rallied late to cut the Columbia advantage to 23-21 after a Lion miscue. Columbia regrouped after a timeout to win the next two points, the final on a block, to take the set 25-21. The loss snapped a 28 set winning streak for SHU, who had also won 8 consecutive matches by shutout.
Trimble stole the show in the third set with five kills on eight attempts, contributing to her .444 hitting percentage for the match. It was the Pioneers turn to control the action early in the set, building a 12-5 lead. The Lions would never get within four points as SHU took a 2-1 overall advantage with a 25-15 victory. Courtney Kidd-Kadlubek (Santa Barbara, CA) dished out 12 of her total 53 assists of the match to improve her assists per set mark for the season, which entering the match ranked 8th in the NCAA.
Entering Tuesday, Columbia had played seven five-set matches in 2010 and had compiled a 5-2 record in those contests. The Lions threatened to push this match the distance as they built a 12-8 edge in the fourth set. But Kidd-Kadlubek dominated from the service line and allowed SHU to take the next seven consecutive points. Kelsey Freeman (Denver, CO) came in off the bench and controlled the middle for Sacred Heart as she netted two kills on her only two attempts of the night. The Pioneers would never look back and back-to-back Lion errors gave SHU the match 25-18, in four sets.
Sacred Heart returns to Northeast Conference play this weekend for a trip to Pennsylvania taking on Robert Morris and Saint Francis (PA). A win over Robert Morris on Saturday would clinch the #1 seed in the NEC playoffs for SHU as well as clinching a share of the program's first ever league title.