NEW BRITAIN, CT- The Hartford Hawks and the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils are separated by just the diagonal distance across the town of West Hartford, setting up a likely rivalry. The two squads had met up a few weeks ago with CCSU picking up a 3-0 win but the Hawks were back in town looking to pick up the win. This match would also go Central’s way though as they picked up a 3 set win, though Hartford, who had an awkward first set, but then starting putting things together in set 2 and 3, gave the Blue Devils plenty to deal with including a late charge in set 3 which nearly extended the match.
As always with recaps I tend to focus on the offensive, as it is 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 write them down.
The opening set began with Hartford getting out to a 0-3 lead thanks to Hallie Fullagar’s kill, Kami Nethersole’s big spike, and an a service ace by Fullagar as well. A CCSU attack out of bounds put the score at 0-4, but Central got on the board with a Emily Cochran kill just within the boundary lines, and a Hartford attack sailed out of play. Erin Macro received a set and delivered a kill, but CCSU responded with at tip that dropped in. A long rally back and forth followed that, but Central got the point, and following that Sara DeLacey whapped an attack in to tie the score at 5-5. Nethersole responded, but DeLacey delivered a kill from the net to keep the score tied now at 6-6. Nethersole regained the lead when her attack ended up just in bounds, but Jamie Baumert launched a kill to the gap, and her teammate Blaike King had a service ace when the ball looked out but hit the floor in play. A Hawk spike out of bounds, and another Baumert point this time on a tapped attack made it 10-7, and Hartford called a time out.
Play resumed and Baumert and Cochran teamed up to block an attack, and King picked up another service ace when her serve bounced off a U of H dig attempt. With the score 12-7, Fullagar struck again and the defense’s dig failed. A serve out of bounds by the white and red put the ball back in Central’s court literally, but Macro had a kill of her own. On the ensuing back Hartford was unable to return ball, and it was 14-9 Central. A spike out of bounds by the Hawks made it 15-9, though Fullagar smacked the ball off some blockers to keep the deficit at 5. On the next play, despite a great defensive play by Fullagar, CCSU was still able to get the point when Cochran’s kill succeed. She then served up an ace that hit the net and dropped to a gap in the defense. A second ace flew off a Hawk and out of bounds. The score was 18-10.
Next rally Nethersole tapped the ball into the gap for a finesse point, but an attack outside the lines kept the Central lead at 8, though the Blue Devils attacked out of bounds, and Hartford served out of bounds to keep the point trading going. An antenna error was called on Hartford, and King picked up a tap to score an offensive point. Nethersole returned fire with a blast of a spike over the net but the set score was 22-13. Another serve miscue put a point on Central’s side, but Fullagar whacked her attack to a back gap in the defense to keep the game alive. Another service error had CCSU within one, and Tori Vaughan ended the set with a kill. CCSU 1, Hartford 0.
The set opened to a 5-5 tie with Hartford’s points coming off a Central attack error, a Nethersole spike off the blockers, a Macro service ace, some other point, and a Hartford player putting down a CCSU pass that instead came over the net hard. CCSU scored off a serve into the net by Hartford, a King kill, a Hawks attack error of some kind, another serve into the net, and later another serve into the net. CCSU then took the lead off two attack errors, and Cochran and Baumert shared another block to make it 8-5. After a Hawk hit an attack into the net, U of H called a time out to regroup. Play resumed and Nethersole sliced another kill just in bounds, but CCSU exploded for 4 quick points, including a Cochran kill, a Amanda Bayer put over, Cochran crushing a spike, and a Hartford attack going out of bounds. The set was now 13-6.
Michelle Cordell ended the scoring drought with a just plain huge kill, but Vaughan responded hammering the ball from the net. Macro slammed a response through the blockers and out of bounds, but Baumert backhanded a ball into the gap to keep the lead at 15-8. The Hawks were unable to get a serve returned and another time out was called. The visitors came out of the box firing, and Macro struck again, UHa set a ball to a corner of the defense for an additional point and Central attacked just out of bounds. 16-11 was now the score.
Vaughan and DeLacey teamed up on a block, but Lindsay Ford used a fake set to instead put over a kill, Maite Mendizabal responded with a straight up spike, but Nethersole pounced on a Blue Devil overpass and Cordell hurricaned another of her spikes in to bring it to 18-14. Cochran responded, and Baumert and Bayer teamed up for a block to extended the lead. A Central error cut the lead back to 5 though, and another error followed. Two attack errors by the Hawks though negated those gains, and following a good dig by Sarah Boss, Macro picked up a point on the attack and Central’s two hit errors had the set at 22-18. Central picked up 3 straight points to close it out thanks to kills from Cochran and Vaughan, and Vaughan and DeLacey then blocked their way to the 25th point. CCSU 2, Hartford 0.
This set would prove to be a much more back and forth affair until the closing moments. The teams initially fought to a 12-12 tie. Central scored off a DeLacey, kill, another kill, a Baumert smash to the corner, Mendizabal’s kill, another Baumert spike off the defense, a Vaughan block following a good save by Baumert, a Hartford miscue in setting up the return, and a pair of attack errors, as well as Mendizabal tapping the ball over the jumping blockers, and Baumert’s hard spike. Hartford scored thanks to Ford opening the match with a fake set put over, Macro absolutely crushed an attack, another kill landed just in bounds, Central attack out of bounds, Fullagar launched a shot, Cordell had a service ace, Macro and Nethersole won a joust at the net for the ball, later Nethersole jumped up to wham a set over the net, Central attacked out of bounds, a couple of times, another point followed, and an another error of some kind followed after that.
Hartford took the lead when Cordell sent another thundering kill off se3veral defenders and way out o play. Baumert’s cross court smash was the response. Fullagar had a kill of her own, and another point followed to give the Hawks a two point lead. A net violation on UH put Central back within1, but Macro had another kill off the blockers, though Cochran responded. Following a good save by Ford, Maddison Molyneux whacked an attack over and it was not returned, the two point lead stayed intact.
But Central caught fire, an attack over was not returned, Vaughan and Mendizabal’s block was knocked around but out of play. An additional point followed, DeLacey then absolutely stuffed a Hawk attack with a block. The score was 19-17 and the visitors called a time out. DeLacey opened play again with a positive rocket off a set, though an attack out of bounds got things to 20-18. Two attack errors later by Hartford had the score at 22-18 and another time out ensued.
Cochran attacked from mid court and the spike worked, and teammate Mendizabal’s blast put the team at 1 point away from set and match victory. But the next play was an attack out of play, Three additional miscues brought the set to 24-22, and the fans grew a bit tenser. A CCSU time out was also called. The next rally back and forth began and a Hartford spike went out of play to end the set and match 25-22. CCSU 3, Hartford 0.