By David F.P. [Modest Image Gallery]
STORRS, CT – In their final matches of the tournament for the Long Island Blackbirds and the New Hampshire Wildcats took place in the evening at Gampel Pavilion. UNH would end up a victor in 3 straight sets, but not for a lack of offense from Long Island.
As always with recaps I tend to focus on the offensive, as it it hard enough to follow the fast paced action, but this is not to in any way downgrade the importance of key sets and key defensive plays. I do note defensive saves whenever I have time to right them down.
New Hampshire pretty much led most of set 1 opening up a block, though LIU picked up a point on a Wildcat serve into the net, Taylor Dressing delivered a kill, though Kelsi Klikus responded, following a long rally, the Blackbirds spiked a shot out of bounds, though Lauren Laquerre and Pauline Acres shared a block to regain the lead. Martina Racic hit one home, but Lindsay Fogarty came up with one of her many big kills, and a LIU attack out of bounds put UNH up 3-6. A UNH attack error gave LIU a point, but Acres knocked a ball off the defense and out of bounds. Svetlana Simic picked up a kill, but Fogarty struck again, though Ashley Rice and Simic both picked up kills for Long Island to get within 1. UNH picked up two straight blasts to extend the lead again though following a good save by Chelsey Stanton, Simic scored the kill, though a serve into the net by LIU had UNH still up 8-11.
UNH continued to build a lead until exploding things out to 15-19. Along the way they picked up points off Dressing and Justine Elliott’s tandem block, another Fogarty spike, a block involving Kate Uitti, Fogarty, and Acres, another Fogarty smash through the defense, Laquerre’s kill, good saves by Uitti, and Kelly Harte, as well as Laquerre picking up another kill, the Wildcats winning a joust at the net, and Dressing hammering the ball off the blockers and outside the line. Long Island’s scoring came from a pair of UNH errors, a Simic blast, Breanna Cullity jumping into the air and receiving a set which she kablammed over the net, a UNH serve just out of bounds, another UNH attack error, and one of Simic’s many rocket kills. Long Island called a time out and it worked momentarily as two UNH attack errors, and a Racic kill brought the score to 18-19.
Elliott and Fogarty’s kills put their team up by 3 again, though Racic bounced a spike off the net to cut the lead. A serve into the net negated that advantage, though two UNH errors closed the gap to 21-22 again and New Hampshire called time out.
When play resumed Simic came up huge with a kill to tie the score, but a net violation on Long Island put UNH back ahead and Fogarty hammered another shot over. With the set on brink LIU called a time out. Simic came out of her second time in a row with a big blast, and New Hampshire ended the next play with a spike out of bounds to tie things up again. Simic then grabbed the advantage hurricaning the ball off defenders and out of bounds for a 25-24 lead. UNH called a time out and benefited from a Long Island spike out of bounds to tie things back up. Following that two errors by the Blackbirds translated into a 25-27 set victory for the Wildcats. UNH 1, LIU 0
Set 2 would be a much more lopsided affair unusually as UNH pulled out to a 5-11 lead. The Wildcats points came from Laquerre continuing her scoring ways, a block, a Dressing kill, Elliott’s block, two more quick points, a blast from Elliott, Dressing’s hammer shot following a set reception, Sara Heldman’s service ace, Fogarty’s wallop off a blocker, and another Heldman serve. LIU’s points came off a Simic opening the set with a kill following a solid save by Stanton, UNH serving into the net, a service ace from Simic, UNH whacking an attack into the net, and a serve into the net later in the run. Long Island called a time out to regroup.
Acres resumed place by whacking a kill off the defensive block to the floor. A long rally battle ensued including good digs from pretty much the entire LIU team, as well as Heldman, before Fogarty doinked the ball off the defense to the floor. Another long rally ensued with good defense from Stanton and Klikus and Unh3, before Racic hit the ball through the gap. A spike into the net on the next play returned the advantage to UNH, though Simic unleashed a spike through the blockers. UNH picked up three straight points including another kill by the prolific Fogarty, and a kill from Elliott. A serve out of bounds ended the scoring run with the score 8-17, but things would not improve too much in the scoring department for Long Island as New Hampshire would roll to a 12-25 win. The last of LIU’s points came from a Rice kill, another Simic spike, Racic blocked hard a tap attack by UNH and LIU struck again just in bounds late in the match. UNH closed things out with a kill from Laquerre, a Elliott smash off a well placed set, a Dressing huge smash that the defense could get only one hand on, a cross court dart by Acres, a big Fogarty block, another Acres kill and an error on the part of LIU.
UNH 2, LIU 0.
Set 3 was much more true to form for both teams, as both teams fought to a 10-9 score early on. New Hampshire’s points came mainly through a Long Island spike into the net, a Acres kill, Fogarty striking again, Uitti scoring one, a lift error on LIU, Laquerre’s tap over the defense, Dressing winning a joust at the net, and LIU spiking into the net. Long Island’s points came through a UNH attack out of bounds, followed by a net violation, and two unreturnable attacks, one of which came on the serve by Uitti. An errant UNH set ended up in LIU’s hands and she returned it hard. A UNH hit out of bounds was responsible for the 6th point, and Racic and Cullity’s shared block, as well as an Cullity kill added to the total, a UNH attack error rounded out the scoring.
The two teams traded points with a Dressing smash and a Simic wallop in response. A long rally back and forth ensued with Heldman, Racic, and Stanton picking up good saves before an LIU attack sailed out of bounds. Jayde Huxtable followed this with an ace on the serve, though Klikus delivered a spike to keep UNH’s lead at 2, and this chase would progress all the way to a 20-20 tie. UNH points came off an LIU lift, a now expected power blast from Fogarty, a huge Acres kill, another Fogarty wham after a good save by Heldman, a spike out of bounds by LIU, a two hit error, and a Dressing kill delivered off a nice set. LIU picked up points off a pair of UNH net errors, then a spike out of bounds, as well as a serve as out of bounds, another serve out of bounds, and a spike into the net, before Theresa Gorella delivered an Ace of her own, and another spike out of bounds by UNH helped to close the gap before Simic kabonged a spike in.
UNH gained the advantage when LIU spiked outside the lines, and Acres then spiked the kill for a two point lead. Long Island called a time out, and they picked up a point off a UNH four hit error. Acres extended the lead with another shot though, Racic responded, but a spike out of bounds by the Blackbirds brought the score to 22-24. Another LIU time out followed, and Racic came out of it with a blast to put the team within on. Acres ended the set and match with a strike on the next play though. 23-25. UNH 3, LIU 0.