Women’s Volleyball Completes Triumphant 3-2 Comeback Win Over New England College

women's volleyball players celebrate after winning a point

BENNINGTON, Vt. – After losing its first two New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) sets of the year, the Southern Vermont College women's volleyball team battled back to defeat the visiting Pilgrims 3-2 Tuesday night at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.

NEC won the opening pair of games by 25-16 and 25-13 margins. The Mountaineers picked up the momentum in the third and kept the night alive with a 25-13 win of their own, and the hosts then held off New England to take the fourth at 25-19. SVC scored nine unanswered points in the decisive frame to pull ahead, and Southern Vermont was able to maintain the advantage and remain undefeated in league play with a 15-12 edging.

The Mountaineers (16-3, 5-0 NECC) are now off until next Tuesday, October 16. They will visit Norwich University that night to resume the championship match of The Vermont Volleyball Classic which was suspended in the second set on September 3 with NU leading 20-16 in the game and 1-0 in the contest; first serve that evening at Norwich is slated for 5 p.m.

New England (7-16, 2-2 NECC) is back in action on Thursday with a 7 p.m. non-conference home match against the University of Southern Maine.

Mountaineer senior captain Liv Sowles (Sacramento, Calif.) put down a match-best 18 kills while adding six digs and three block assists to her line, and junior Taryn Higareda (Rosemead, Calif.) facilitated the offense with 28 assists. Freshman Vianey Hernandez (Jewett, Texas) had a team-high 25 digs in addition to six aces and three kills in the win.

Pilgrim freshman Tihani Ehia (Kaneeohe, Hawaii) led her squad with 13 kills, and she added 13 digs for the double-double. Senior libero Meaghan Six (Manchester, N.H.) registered a match-best 28 digs as freshman Kenzie Barron (Clearfield, Utah) posted 19 assists and 17 digs in the effort.

SVC led by one early in the first set before New England took control with a 9-1 run; four Pilgrims recorded kills in that stretch with sophomore Jada Small (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) having two in-a-row. A few NEC errors allowed the Mountaineers to get within four, but the visitors would slowly pull away and double their advantage through the rest of the set to take it handily.

Ehia landed four of her kills in the second game as the Pilgrims made only three attacking errors on 27 swings (.259) for the best set of the night from either side. She had one while Small chipped in with a pair for NEC to win five unanswered points midway through the stanza for a nine-point upper hand. Scoring went back-and-forth until New England closed out the game on an 8-2 run—putting the Mountaineers' backs against the wall.

Southern Vermont did not shy away from the adversity and, rather, met it head on by storming out to a 7-1 lead in the onset of the third; Higareda had a pair of aces in that run while junior Dahlia Rafael-Tirado (Providence, R.I.) followed with three in-a-row to force the first NEC timeout of the night. Hernandez would later follow a Sowles kill with an ace of her own, and the Mountaineers were able to carry that comfortable cushion through a final Hernandez ace to make it a 2-1 contest.

New England kept SVC from running away with the fourth as the Pilgrims pushed to end the evening. Southern Vermont was able to get on the right end of the set's 11th lead change by going in front 17-15 with consecutive Hernandez kills; the Mountaineers then closed out the game on an 8-4 run, highlighted by a pair of Sowles kills, to force the final frame.

NEC went on top 6-4 in the fifth with a pair of kills from sophomore Dreka Griffin (Calera, Ala.), but that's when Southern Vermont seized the momentum and played off the energy from its home crowd. Sowles landed back-to-back kills before Higareda and junior Meg Maddalena (Portola, Calif.) each tallied one. A pair of New England mishaps then put SVC in front 13-6.

The Pilgrims refused to go quietly and came back with five-straight points behind Ehia notching a pair of aces, but another NEC error ended that run and made way for SVC sophomore Nikki Ramirez (West Covina, Calif.) to close out the triumphant, come-from-behind victory with her second kill of the night.

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