BENNINGTON, Vt. – After losing the first set, the Southern Vermont College women's volleyball team battled back and took the next three games to seal a 3-1 victory over Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Friday night in non-conference action at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
SVC starts the season 1-0 while the Trailblazers move to 2-1 on the year. Prior to the start of the match, the Mountaineers unveiled their 2013 New England Collegiate Conference Championship and NCAA tournament appearance banners.
MCLA won the first game by a 25-15 score before Southern Vermont rallied for three straight with tallies of 25-20, 25-21, and 25-15.
Mountaineer senior Jessica Delgado (Los Angeles, California) led all players with 12 kills to go with a team-high nine digs while sophomore Katie Cerulo (Natick, Massachusetts) followed with eight kills, eight digs and three service aces.
A pair of MCLA freshmen led their team in kills as Brianne O'Rourke (Piseco, New York) and Margaret Allen (East Patchogue, New York) each tallied seven; Allen added four digs while O'Rourke came up with three solo blocks and another assisted block. Senior libero Alexandra Chang (North Port, New York) racked up a match-high 19 digs for the Trailblazers.
The visitors owned most of the momentum through the early going of the first set, taking to a 14-8 lead after the start. SVC was able to take six of the next seven points to close it to 15-14, but four Mountaineer hitting errors detailed a 10-1 run by MCLA to close it out. Southern Vermont's lack of game experience peaked its head as the Mountaineers recorded a -.065 hitting percentage for the game opposed to the Trailblazer's .250.
The second set, however, was a much different story for SVC as the hosts only made three hitting errors for a .231 hitting percentage. SVC jumped out to a 9-3 lead with the help of five kills. MCLA wouldn't go easily as the Trailblazers took the next four points, two coming off service ac
MCLA took away the momentum from the stoppage and won six of the next seven points for a 13-11 advantage. But Southern Vermont persisted, battling to keep the set in reach. After an SVC hitting error made it 19-17 in favor of the Trailblazers, the Mountaineers ripped off the next seven straight points to put the score at game point. O'Rourke landed a kill to extend the match, but an MCLA service error gave the set to SVC and turned the tide of the evening.es. On the next point, Southern Vermont and the Mountaineer fans had a scare when sophomore Brin Goldman (St. Croix, Virgin Islands) came down by the net and landed on the foot of an MCLA player, slightly spraining her ankle. With SVC only having six players dressed for the match, the loss of Goldman would have resulted in a Mountaineer forfeit; to give her extra time to shake off the pain and get ready to get back in the action, first year Southern Vermont head coach Jessica Alvarez used a timeout with the hopes of resuming the contest. Following the break and to much of the pleasure of the MAC faithful, Goldman returned to the court and SVC was able to continue play.
The third frame saw the two teams going back-and-forth with points, neither able to get a lead of more than two. Then, with the score at 11-11, SVC won the next four points with three kills, two by Cerulo. The Mountaineers kept up the energy and continued to score until the game score was set at 24-15. MCLA wouldn't quit, however, taking four straight before an SVC timeout and then two more after the break to make it a 24-21 game. That's when Delgado went up and put down a kill for the 25-21 set victory and a 2-1 match advantage.
Points were traded to start the fourth stanza before Southern Vermont won six of the next seven points to take a 13-7 lead. The Trailblazers scored three straight of their own to close it to 13-10, but SVC took eight of the next nine to make it 21-11, three points coming from aces served up by junior setter Sheilani Kaleopa (Riverside, California). MCLA hung in to make it 24-15 but committed a service error after an SVC timeout to give the Mountaineers the match.
"The fans being so supportive definitely pumped the girls up even more," commented Alvarez. "This match just proves that numbers aren't everything and that if you have a good solid six with heart, that's all it takes. Six girls with that much heart can beat a team of 22, and we showed that tonight."
Kaleopa finished with an evening-best 28 assists while popping up eight digs and ripping five service aces in the match. Goldman added another six kills, four aces and four digs while senior Alexandra Sinicropi (Fultonville, New York) chipped in with six kills and eight digs. Senior Marykay Pruckno (Rome, New York) added another four digs on the defensive end in the win.
Trailblazer freshman setter Chanielle Enomoto (Wailuku, Hawaii) helped facilitate the MCLA offense with 10 assists to go with five digs and four service aces, and senior Jacqueline Paluilis (Orange, Mass.) tallied eight digs and two aces in the effort.
Neither side was sterling on their attack as the Trailblazers owned a .092 to .073 hitting percentage for the night.
The Mountaineers are off until next Friday, September 12 when they travel to Rhode Island for the Ocean State Classic, playing two matches at Slave Regina University; SVC takes on Wheaton College at 5 p.m. and then Salve Regina at 7 p.m. Next up for MCLA is a 7 p.m. Tuesday night match at Mount Holyoke College.