NEWARK, DEL. (September 14, 2013)—The Sacred Heart women's volleyball team picked up its only win of the Delaware Invitational Saturday evening in a five-set match against Rutgers. Like every other match this weekend, Sarah Krufka (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) led the way for the Pioneers, posting 15 kills, and rookie libero Ana Gonzalez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) tallied 28 digs in the match. The win brings SHU back over .500, 5-4.
The Pioneers opened the first set with a immediate three-point deficit thanks to strong serving by Rutgers' Ronnie Komisarek. Sacred Heart was never able to battle back. The closet they came was two points, 15-13, before Dulce Duran's seven-point run gave the Scarlet Knights a healthy 22-13 lead. From there, Rutgers cruised to the 25-17 win. Senior Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Calif.) led SHU with six digs and four kills in the set.
Sacred Heart rebounded in the second set. Early runs from Marie Zimmerman (Denver, Colo.) and Gonzalez gave the Pioneers an early 6-1 lead. With SHU up 12-5, Jene Lee (San Dimas, Calif.) sent down a kill forcing Rutgers to take a time out. The break didn't slow down the charging Pioneers, as they turned in another kill by Lee and three Rutgers errors into a 16-5 lead, their largest of the set. The Scarlet Knights quickly answered with Komisarek's eight-point service run that cut the Pioneers' lead to just four points, 17-13. Rutgers tied the score at 18 with a kill from Rachel Andreassian, but could never pull ahead with a lead. Sacred Heart cashed in three more kills for the 25-22 win evening the match. Krufka led the set with four kills, while Gonzalez posted seven digs.
The third set was close early on as neither team could seem to pull away. It wasn't until the score was 15-13 in favor of the Scarlet Knights that they began to pull away. Four straight points on a Rutgers kill and a series of Pioneer unforced errors widened the gap to 19-13. Sacred Heart was able to claw their way back into the set largely due to strong serving including aces by sophomore Karly Shockey (Chino Hills, Calif.) and Gonzalez. Sacred Heart ranks second in the nation in aces per set and this pair came in handy as the Pioneers won the set with a final score of 25-22.
The Pioneers opened strong in the fourth set and jumped out to a 12-4 lead. At 13-7 Rutgers showcased their serving abilities putting together a run of 5 points that nearly tied the set. The Scarlet Raiders would win 12 of the final 13 points of the set to complete the comeback and win the fourth set by a margin of 10 at 25-15. In a set where the Pioneers struggled all around Gonzalez recorded an impressive 12 digs to lead all players.
Krufka hit an impressive .667 in the deciding set, racking up four kills on six attempts. Both teams fought hard in the fifth set, with the lead flip-flopping. Nicole Bayer seemed to have given Rutgers a decisive advantage lifting the Scarlet Knights to a 7-4 lead, but the Pioneers chipped away at the deficit tying the score at 11 with a kill by freshman setter Kiki Robinson (Bakersfield, Calif.). The score knotted again at 12 before Katie Direnzo's (Shelton, Conn.) service ace and Alissa Young's (La Verne, Calif.) kill gave Sacred Heart a 14-12 advantage. The Scarlet Knights got one more point on a SHU service error before Young dealt the final blow. The junior posted three kills in the set and hit 33.3%.
The Pioneers hit the road again next weekend, traveling to Pennsylvania to play in the Villanova Classic.