New Britain, CT - For the third straight match the SHU women's volleyball team went to a fifth set, coming away with a 3-2 victory over Central Connecticut State Wednesday night. Ashlyn Trimble (Temecula, CA) recorded a double-double with 17 kills and 18 digs while Elise Sage (Greenwood Village, CO) dropped in 20 kills for the night and notched a .421 hitting percentage. SHU now enters Sunday's season finale with a chance to claim a share of the program's first ever Northeast Conference title.
Central Connecticut State (9-17, 6-8 NEC) stayed just ahead of the Pioneers early with slim leads of 7-6, 8-7, 9-8, and 10-9. SHU responded with a 5-1 to take a 15-11 on the strength of a kill from Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico). Mercado also finished the night with a double-double with 14 kills and 20 digs. One of Christina Bauch's (Trabuco Canyon, CA) five kills of the match gave the Pioneers a set point at 24-22. Two points later Trimble put the ball to the floor for the final point of the set to give SHU a 25-23 set lead and a 1-0 advantage overall.
Sacred Heart (26-6, 13-2 NEC) jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead in the second stanza with five of those points coming on Pioneer kills. Another 6-2 spurt later in the set gave SHU a comfortable 19-11 cushion as Sacred Heart went on to win the frame 25-18. Johanna Ovsenek (London, Ontario) supplied one of her 14 kills of the match followed by a Mercado put away to put SHU ahead 2-0 overall.
The Blue Devils began the comeback with a quick start off the bench in the third set to take a 9-3 lead. The Pioneers immediately rallied to close the gap to 9-7 but CCSU made an 8-4 surge to take commanding 17-11 advantage. Sara Delacey recorded one of her team-high 15 kills of the night to end the set 25-19 for Central Connecticut State as the home team pulled closer to Sacred Heart at 2-1.
The Pioneers surged off the bench and took a 6-2 advantage on a kill from Ovsenek. The Blue Devils went on a 5-1 streak to tie the set at 7-7. The two teams battled back-and-forth the rest of the way until SHU grabbed a 22-21 lead on a Sage attack. Central Connecticut State won the next four points, the last three on Pioneer swinging errors to take the set 25-22 and even the match at two sets apiece.
Sacred Heart found itself down 12-9 in the final set and was in danger of dropping a third consecutive match in five sets. The Pioneers rallied with four straight points on the serve of Megan Pulone (Diamond Bar, CA) to take a 13-12 lead with the final tally coming on a service ace. Two points later SHU would get its first match point of the night with a kill from Trimble. The Blue Devils committed an attacking error as SHU took the fifth set 15-13 for a dramatic five set victory.
The Pioneers close out the regular season on Sunday at 1:00 pm in a clash with Long Island at the William H. Pitt Center on senior day.