Pioneers Downed by Ball State and Michigan State in Final Day of Spartan Invitational

Johanna Ovsenek was named to the Spartan Invitational All-Tournament Team
Johanna Ovsenek was named to the Spartan Invitational All-Tournament Team

East Lansing, MI - The SHU women's volleyball team suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season as the Pioneers fell twice Saturday at the Spartan Invitational, dropping decisions to Ball State and host Michigan State.  Johanna Ovsenek (London, Ontario) earned a spot on the all-tournament team, putting up nine kills and a .467 hitting percentage against Michigan State.  The Pioneers wrapped up their final regular season tournament of 2011 with a 1-2 record after defeating VCU in five sets yesterday.

Sacred Heart (9-4) got off to a fast start on the day, claiming the opening set against Ball State, 25-19.  SHU got off to a 4-1 advantage as Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) and Elise Sage (Greenwood Village, CO) both ripped service aces.  Sage paced the Pioneer attack with a .450 hitting percentage coupled with 11 kills.  Kimmee Roleder (Pasaenda, CA) led SHU with 14 kills in the contest while Jessica Colberg (Long Beach, CA) registered 15 digs.  Sacred Heart rolled to a comfortable victory, rattling off six straight points late in the set.

Ball State (10-2) responded with a blistering .409 hitting percentage in the second frame.  The Pioneers would also be efficient in the set, swinging at a .385 clip.  However, with the score knotted at 23-23 a Mercado service error, one of SHU's 14 serving miscues of the contest, gave the Cardinals a set point.  Whitney Heeres then put up one of Ball State's 15 total blocks to end the set 25-23 and even the match at 1-1.

The Cardinal offense did not slow down in the third set, making just two attacking erorrs.  The Pioneers earned a 16-15 edge but Ball State went on a late run of its own to win the set 25-19.  Both defenses played better in the fourth frame as neither team hit over .100.  SHU closed to within one at 21-20 but the Cardinals pulled away late, taking four of the final five points to pick up the 25-21 and 3-1 victory.

Michigan State (11-1) battled back-and-forth with Sacred Heart early in the opening set before a 6-2 spurt put the Spartans on top, 18-12.  The tournament hosts then caught fire and stormed to a 25-15 victory behind a .478 hitting percentage.  Kyndra Abron would finish with a match high 16 kills for the Spartans.

The Pioneers withstood a 5-1 Michigan State run to start the middle stanza and battled back in a very compettive affair.   Sacred Heart would earn seven opportunitiies to tie the set, including points at 22-21, 23-22, and 24-23, but were turned away by the Spartans each time.  The Pioneers scorched 16 kills and notched a .270 hitting percentage in the set against the powerhouse Michigan State squad.  The momentum would be too much for SHU to overcome as the Spartans took the final set, 25-11, to finish the sweep.

Sacred Heart returns to the William H. Pitt Center next weekend for the first two Northeast Conference games of 2011.  The Pioneers face-off with Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday and Bryant on Sunday.