August 30, 2013

SHU Volleyball Splits Opening Night; Picks Up First Win Over Holy Cross

WORCESTER, MASS. (August 30, 2013)—Freshmen Marie Zimmerman (Denver, Colo.) and Sarah Krufka (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) collected 22 kills each over two matches as the Sacred Heart women's volleyball team opened the season. The Pioneers split the night, falling to Stony Brook 3-1 before sweeping Holy Cross. First-year setter Kiki Robinson (Bakerfield, Calif.) averaged 12.43 assists per set, and a .412 hitting percentage on the night.

The Pioneers outhit Stony Brook .176 to .148, collecting 51 kills to the Seawolves' 28. Errors hurt Sacred Heart in the season-opener. SHU posted nearly twice as many hitting errors as Stony Brook (29 to 15), and 23 service errors. Zimmerman led the Pioneers in her first collegiate match hitting .296 notching 13 kills on 27 attempts with just one error.

The first set was neck-and-neck as the teams exchanged points through the majority of the set. Stony Brook's three-point run to take a 19-16 lead proved to be fruitful as they took the set 25-22. Krufka led the set with five kills. The rookie posted a .571 hitting percentage in her collegiate debut.

The second match looked identical to the first, but this time it went in the Pioneers' favor as they evened the match with the 25-22 win. Down 15-11 at one point, Sacred Heart battled its way back with a 10-5 run sealing the deal. Sophomore Allison Riggs (Anaheim, Calif.) led the set with five kills hitting .800. 

Despite Stony Brook taking a 15-10 lead in the third set, Sacred Heart fought back with a six-point run to take its first lead of the set 18-17. From there, the teams exchanged points tying the game eight times before the Seawolves took the set 29-27. Robinson posted 13 assists in the set, while outside hitter Zimmerman led the set with four kills.

Sacred Heart looked like it was going to force a fifth set taking an early 6-1 lead in the fourth set, but Stony Brook went on an 10-4 run to take their first lead of the set 19-17. From there, the Pioneers could not recover and dropped the set 25-20. Zimmerman posted six of SHU's eight kills in the set, and led the team hitting .444. 

The Pioneers swept host-team Holy Cross in the second match of the evening, outplaying the Crusaders in all categories.

Senior Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) led all players with six kills in the first set. Robinson ran a near perfect offense getting 16 assists on 17 attempts. The first set began close until Sacred Heart began to run away with the set as the score jumped from a 5-5 tie to a seven-point Pioneer lead at 14-7 forcing a Holy Cross timeout. Following the timeout, Sacred Heart ran the lead to as many as 10 points as they claimed the set 25-15.

Improving on her first set, Robinson was a perfect 11 assists on 11 attempts while the Pioneers were 14-for-14 as a team. Early strong serving gave Sacred Heart a 7-3 lead, but the Crusaders fought to within three points at 12-9. Following a three-point service run by Mercado, the Pioneers threatened to run away with the set. A service ace from Zimmerman and a Crusader hitting error forced Holy Cross's only timeout of the set at 22-14. The Pioneers maintained the pressure and took a two-set lead 25-19.

With the largest lead at just three points, the third set was closely contested and required extra points to finish. Zimmerman led the set with seven kills, as Ana Gonzalez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) contributed defensively with six digs to lead the set. Holy Cross had its first set point opportunity at 25-24, but was denied by one of Zimmerman's kills. The teams continued to trade points until the score stood 30-30. Following a service ace from sophomore Katie Direnzo (Shelton, Conn.) gave Sacred Heart a chance to close out the match, Zimmerman sent the final blow giving SHU the match 32-30.

The Pioneers face UMass-Lowell Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. to wrap up opening weekend.