Women's Volleyball Opens 2009 With a Win Over Connecticut
Reno, NV - The Saint Mary's women's volleyball team got the 2009 season started on the right track posting a convincing four set win (20-25,25-21, 25-14, 25-21) over Connecticut (0-1) Friday afternoon in the first match of the Marriott Courtyard/Fairfield Invitational. The Gaels (1-0) got a strong performance from the attack as they combined for a .349 hitting percentage, on 60 kills.
"UCONN is a good team," said Head Coach Rob Browning. "They played well, especially in the first two sets. We didn't find a rhythm until the third set. Some first match jitters maybe, but overall a good showing by our team. We'll need to play cleaner tomorrow against Cal."
Leading the Gaels' attack was talented freshman Lauren Corp, who made her Saint Mary's debut to the tune of 15 kills in 32 attempts, for a .438 hitting percentage. The outside hitter was just one dig shy of a double-double as she notched nine digs, with four blocks and an ace. When asked about her first game playing for the Gaels Corp said, "At first I was really nervous, but all the girls helped me through it. I think the team was able to play consistently throughout the whole match."
Junior middle blocker Shannon Lowell picked things up right where she left off from last season, as she tabbed 10 kills in 17 attempts, for a .583 hitting percentage. She also notched five blocks (two solo) and four aces. Fellow junior outside hitter Megan York recorded her first double-double of the season, as she tallied 13 kills and 15 digs. Junior setter Kapua Kamana'o had an impressive performance as well, notching 49 assists, while recording two kills and an ace.
Burton finished up the day with nine kills in 19 attempts, for a .316 hitting percentage. The senior also added five blocks. Senior Alita Fisher recorded a team-high 17 digs, while adding three assists and an ace.
In the first set, the Gaels got on the board first by way of Corp's first collegiate kill. UCONN took advantage after that, as Jordan Kirk and Rebecca Murray notched kills, putting the Huskies on top 13-9. The Gaels rallied to tie the set at 16 apiece, following a kill and two service aces by Shannon Lowell and a kill by Corp. After a timeout by the Huskies, the momentum shifted to UCONN, who took the opening set 25-21 following a kill by Chauntay Mickens.
In the second set, SMC took control early behind Lowell and York, whose pair of kills put the Gaels in the early lead. Following a kill by Lowell, the Gaels took the lead10-7. UCONN took their first timeout of the set, and eventually brought the set within one (11-10) following a kill from Kirk. However, the Gaels took control adding back-to-back kills from Corp to take a 13-10 advantage. UCONN battled but never got within two points, and Corp sealed the set with an ace, 25-21.
UCONN opened up the third set with three-straight errors and kills by Kamana'o and Corp pushed the Gaels lead to 5-1. Following a timeout from the Huskies, Lowell notched her fourth ace of the match to give Saint Mary's an 8-1 lead. UCONN used the second of their timeouts, then added three quick kills by Murray and Mickens to cut the Gaels lead to 12-4. SMC rallied for seven straight points to extend their lead to 20-5. A kill by Megan Burton closed out the third set for the Gaels taking it by a score of 25-14.
In the fourth and final set the two sides traded points, before Corp notched a kill to put the Gaels up two (17-15). UCONN called a timeout and the two teams resumed their close play eventually tying up the set 20-20, following a kill by Kirk. The Gaels put themselves ahead for good with three-straight points on kills by Lowell and York and a service error by Mickens. SMC closed out the set, and the match, on a kill by Lowell, (her 10th of the match), by a final score of 25-21.
The Gaels will return to action on Saturday at 4:30 when SMC takes on No. 6 ranked California in day two of the Marriott Courtyard/Fairfield Invitational.