Moon Township, PA - Despite 20 kill performances from Elise Sage (Greenwood Village, CO), Johanna Ovsenek (London, Ontario), and Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) the SHU women's volleyball team lost its first match since early September, falling 3-2 to Robert Morris Saturday afternoon. The loss snaps the Pioneers longest winning streak in program history and what had been the second longest streak in the nation. The Colonials rallied from two sets down behind 16 team blocks to prevent SHU from clinching its first Northeast Conference championship.
Sacred Heart (25-5, 12-1 NEC) found themselves behind 15-12 midway through the opening set. The Pioneers refused to go away and eventually evened the frame at 21-21 on a kill from Sage. An Ovsenek kill gave SHU a set point at 24-23 and Courtney Kidd-Kadlubek (Santa Barbara, CA) dropped in a service ace to put the Pioneers up 1-0. Kidd-Kadlubek supplied a season-high 63 assists as the Pioneers hit .218 for the afternoon.
The Pioneers dominated the second set swinging at a .607 clip on 19 kills and just a pair of errors. Sacred Heart rattled off seven consecutive points on the serve of Sage to jump out to an 11-3 advantage. SHU never let up and extended the cushion to 23-9 on a back-to-back service aces from Nicole Morales (Medford, NY). Mercado slammed home the final point of the set as SHU went up 2-0 with the 25-11 triumph.
Robert Morris (14-16, 11-2 NEC) struggled early in the third stanza as the Pioneers exploded for six kills in the first seven points to take a 6-1 edge. But the Colonials responded with a 12-3 run to take the lead at 13-9 on a kill from Lindsey Monger. Monger was the only Robert Morris player to reach double figure kills with 11 for the match. RMU maintained its momentum and earned several match points at 24-19. Sacred Heart fought off three before a service error gave the Colonials the set 25-22.
Robert Morris held the Pioneers to a .060 hitting mark in the fourth set, forcing the Pioneers into 10 errors. Still SHU managed to keep the frame tight and worked the set even at 17-17 on a kill from Sage. Another RMU run leveled the match at two sets a piece as the Colonials downed Sacred Heart 25-19 in the fourth. Libero Jessica Colberg (Long Beach, CA) recorded 13 of her match-high 26 digs in the set.
The Pioneers fell behind two points early in the deciding set on an attacking miscue. Sacred Heart continued to play catch-up and won three consecutive points to take a 10-9. Robert Morris responded to take three of the next four points and grabbed a 12-11 lead on a Hannah Veith block. Veith dominated the net all afternoon with one solo block and nine block assists. Monger gave Robert Morris a match point and a SHU error on the next play gave the Colonials the set 15-13, and the match 3-2.
Sacred Heart remains in first in the Northeast Conference and controls its own destiny to capture a regular season conference championship and host the NEC tournament. The Pioneers still hold the tie-breaker over the Colonials by virtue of a 3-1 victory at home earlier in the season. The women's volleyball team returns to action tomorrow afternoon for a 1:00 pm match on the road against Saint Francis (PA).