Pioneers Downed by Blue Devils in NEC Semifinal
BROOKLYN, N.Y. (November 23, 2013)—The Sacred Heart women's volleyball team ended their season Saturday evening after falling to Central Connecticut State 3-0 in the semifinal match of the 2013 Northeast Conference Championship. Senior Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico), who was named to the 2013 All-NEC first team last night, led the match with 14 kills, while 2013 NEC Rookie of the Year Sarah Krufka (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) was right behind her with 13.
The Pioneers opened the match with a four-point run taking an early lead, but it didn't take long for the Blue Devils to come back and tie the score at five. On a SHU attack error, CCSU took its first lead of the match 6-5.
Known to be tough competitors, the set tied five more times with the Blue Devils always coming out on top. Snapping the 15-all tie with a three-point run, CCSU forced Sacred Heart Head Coach Rob Machan to use a timeout.
The break didn't slow down the Blue Devils who added two more before Sacred Heart could add another point on the board on a Mercado kill. Mercado led all players with nine kills in the set while hitting .467.
CCSU answered with a four-point run that brought them within two of claiming the match opener. The Pioneers rallied four points, but the Blue Devils took the set 25-20 on an assisted block by Rachel Dunlap and Veronika Ban.
CCSU took the first three points of the second set before NEC Rookie of the Year Krufka crushed a kill to the back corner for SHU's first point. Down 8-3, a Blue Devils' service error sparked a four-point Pioneer run to get SHU back in the game, minimizing CCSU's lead to just one point, 8-7. The Blue Devils maintained the lead throughout the set, despite a late seven-point comeback attempt fell short and CCSU took a 2-0 match lead with the 25-21. Krufka led the set with six kills hitting .500, while rookie Jene Lee (San Dimas, Calif.) hit .600 recording four kills on five attacks with just one error.
The teams exchanged points to open the third set before the Blue Devils put three consecutive points on the board for a 7-4 lead that forced SHU into a timeout. The Pioneers chipped away at CCSU's lead and on a Mercado kill, tied the set at 14. The tie broke in the Blue Devil's favor when they added two on a Cassidy Stankowski kill and a SHU error. Sacred Heart, once again, had to play catch-up. Using a three-point run to do so, the Pioneers came within one point of the surging Blue Devils 19-18. In the end, SHU could not catch CCSU, who clinched the match with the 25-20 win.
The Pioneers finish the season 15-16 overall.