by David F.P.
WEST HARTFORD, CT- While their previous road trip was literally from one side of town to the other, it was still likely a good thing for the Hartford Hawks to be in their home arena on the edge of the University of Hartford campus to welcome in the visiting Holy Cross Crusaders. With a good crowd, including Hartford’s President, in place, and more filling into the cozy confines of Reich Pavilion’s volleyball exclusive gym, Fortune would smile on the Hawks tonight as they took the match in three straight sets.
In set one, following an early Holy Cross flourish, Hartford started building a lead and the score was soon 10-8. The Hawks picked up points off a Erin Macro kill off a defender and out of bounds followed an even largely spike on her part for another point, Maddison Molyneux served up a service ace, and Holy Cross spiked out of bounds as well. Following a good defensive save by Lindsay Ford on a play not resulting in a point, she later picked up a put over point, Macro struck again bouncing a blast off several Crusaders and out of bounds. She then landed a serve just in bounds in the corner for an ace, and followed that up with another ace bonking the ball off a defensive dig attempt. Some sort of technical error gave the Hawks another point and an errant HC attack resulted in the 10th point. The Crusaders scored off a Hartford net violation, then a put over, followed later on by a Hartford serve out of bounds and a spike out of bounds. Callie Black and Samantha Surface shared a block, on one play there were great defensive plays by Angela Chisholm and Chelsey O’Donnell including a dive by O’Donnell though it did not result in a point, they did take advantage of an errant Hartford serve, and Kathleen Colpoys and Samantha Surface blocked a ball which hit a Hawk and bounced directly left.
Hartford kept up the pressure and Michelle Cordell sent a cross court kill into a corner for another point, she then followed that with a block stuffing a Holy Cross attacker, in spite of some key defensive saves by Chisholm and Megan Lynch following a missed set on their side. A serve out of bounds by Hartford resulted in a Crusader point, but Sydney Scott bashed a kill into another corner, and then combined with Cordell on a block. Another serve out of bounds put the score at 14-10, and HC started a mini comeback off a Lynch service ace, and Colpoys’s running smash, in spite of a save by Macro. Hartford spiked an attack out of bounds and the score was 14-13. Scott stopped the bleeding with a huge block, and a backhanded Holy Cross attack ended up out of bounds to extend the home team lead back to 3. Another backhanded effort by the Crusaders ended up in the net and it was 17-13. Holy Cross called a time out to regroup, but emerged from the play with a spike into the net. Macro walloped the ball off the defense to the left, and another point followed that. A long rally ensued including a key defensive play by Hallie Fullagar to keep things alive. HC had the last laugh when they put one over the defense, but UH responded with a kill of their own.
With the score 20-14, an errant Holy Cross set sailed towards Ford and she put the overpass down straight to the floor. She followed this with an attack off the defense’s dig and out of play. Holy Cross called a second time out at the 22-14 mark.
Black scored a point for the Crusaders with her kill, but Macro returned fire crushing the ball just in bounds, and then adding to injury with a kill to a corner. With the set on the line Holy Cross sent an attack into the net and Hartford picked up set 1, 25-15. Hartford 1, Holy Cross 0.
When Set 2 began, the visiting Crusaders rolled bringing the score to 2-7 in no time. This came off an early Hartford spike out of bounds, a Lynch cross court smash, followed by a tap over the defense’s front line, another point, a Hartford attack out of bounds, and later a serve out of bounds, as well as an Samantha Surface service ace. Hartford in this time picked up their two points off a serve out of bounds by HC, and a Macro kill.
Fullagar whapped a ball into the HC zone for a third Hartford point, but the Crusaders responded with a spike just in bounds, and an Libby Malloy tap into a corner gap to make the score 3-9. Hartford responded with three straight points thanks to a Cordell kill just in bounds, a Molyneux blast, and Cordell launching a ball set to her off the Crusaders and out of play. A Hartford error ended the brief scoring run at 6-10, but it started right back up again with Cordell’s kill barely in just inside the lines, and Macro and Scott’s tandem block. Holy Cross attacked out of play, and Macro tipped a HC tap over attempt right back at them. When HC then committed a two contacts error the score was 11-10 in favor of the Hawks.
The visitors sent over an attack that Hartford couldn’t return to tie things back up, but Scott received a well placed set and hammered it for the lead, Black spiked off the blockers to tie it back up again, but Macro positively kablammed a kill, and Fullagar slammed another one when the ball was set her way. HC got back into it with two straight Hartford errors, but Fullagar regained the lead with a huge kill off another good set. The Hawks served out of bounds though and the score was tied again. Cordell then pounced for another kill, but Lynch’s cross court missile to the corner gap kept things even. Cordell came up with another big kill off a set, but a serve into the net by U of H kept things tied. Holy Cross however served out of play, and Hartford took that and ran. Molyneux, and Macro both sent meteors into the purple and white’s zone successfully leading to another HC time out with the score 20-17.
Play resumed and Molyneux thumped another kill in, and HC dug a ball too hard back over the net and Scott sent it return to sender. HC would score again when an attack was not returned by Hartford, and Black tapped over the defense to the floor, followed by an Samantha Surface kill. The score would be 23-19. Ford then did a back handed set and Macro’s titanic spike crashed down on the defense. With the set on the line a long rally ensued and Malloy tapped a ball where the Hawks were not. A net violation on the following play did end the set however 25-20. Hartford 2, Holy Cross 0.
Perhaps the most even set would occur in set 3 as both sides battled to a 13-13 tie to start things off. Holy Cross’s points came when they took advantage of a good defensive save from O’Donnell and Black picked up a block. O’Donnell then served up an ace off the Hawks and out of bounds. Samantha Surface delivered a kill, later she tapped an attack over for an additional point, Black whapped the ball off a Hartford dig attempt, and later Lynch and Colpoys shared a block, another kill would follow a bit later, a Hartford serve into the net gave them one, Colpoys then had a service ace, a great defensive save by Rebecca DeSanti was followed the same play by a kill of hers, and following a Hartford attack out of bounds HC picked up an ace. Hartford points during the same period originated from Macro and Scott’s block, a Molyneux blast, a Macro and Ford shared block, and then another, a Holy Cross tap out of bounds, a Ford fake set which she knocked into a gap instead, another kill, a Macro ace when HC missed a set on the return, an HC serve into the net and a Holy Cross spike just out of bounds, another HC set smashed into a girder overhanging the arena and hit the floor, Molyneux delivered another shot, and Holy Cross spiked into the net. Along the way Danielle Etta and Ford had some key defensive saves at certain times.
Hartford began to take a lead but Holy Cross hung in there. Etta sent a serve over that rolled off an HC’s defenders dig attempt, Kami Nethersole then struck with a furious blast over the net. Black responded with a tip off a block, though the Crusaders would serve out of bounds the next play. Molyneux absolutely stuffed a Crusader attacker, but Samantha Surface responded with a tap over the blocking line. A longer rally back and forth occurred with a good saves by Ford and O’Donnell and Chisholm, before Black and Samantha Surface teamed up on a block. Molyneux not unexpectedly extended the lead with yet another kill. Macro received a great set from Ford and just positively typhooned it. A serve out of bounds by the Hawks kept Holy Cross within 2, but Macro received another set and crushed it. Colpoys got a running start and launched a kill to bring the score at 20-18. Cordell extended the lead with a tap over, and a Holy Cross attack out of bounds, put the lead at 22-18. On the next rally a long back and forth ensued including another good save from Ford, but the Hawks hit out of bounds to keep the lead at 3. Fullagar’s pike brought U of H to 23-19. but HC responded with another kill. Some sort of error followed on the Crusaders and the score was 24-20. The set and match were no on the brink and Black delivered another kill. A Hartford spike sailed out of bounds and it was 24-22. With the suspense building Holy Cross’s attack attempt hit outside the lines and Hartford took set and match 25-22. Hartford 3, Holy Cross 0.