By David F.P. [Modest Image Gallery]
HAMDEN, CT- The Quinnipiac Bobcats continued NEC conference play Saturday afternoon when the St. Francis College Terriers (or St. Francis (NY) ) came into Kahn Court. Each team was seeking their first win in the Northeast Conference and their second win of the season. When all was said and done the match would go five sets and the Bobcats would edge the Terriers for the win. This was also an afternoon which honored Kayla Lawler for her 3,000 assist. Lawler holds the all time assists record for Quinnipiac.
Set 1 opened with SFNY pulling out to a lead, but QU gave chase and it was soon a 13-13 tie. The Terriers spent most of the early going with a sizable lead but a Bobcat run took care of that. In fact while each team quickly got to 13 points, Quinnipiac would only allow two more points out of the visitors on the way to a 25-15 set win.
Points for QU included a block from Taylor Payne and Olivia Grattan, two smashes from Grattan in a short period of time, a kill from Bonnie Conklin off the defense and out of play, a shared block from her and Brittanie Robinson, several SFNY attack errors, including one which followed a great defensive save by Kayla Lawler, a kill from Kelby Carey off the blockers and out of bounds, Payne taking a set and whamming it over, picking up a block soon afterward, and then unleashing a precision kill just in bounds, Robinson also had a good save in the midst of this. Tracy Wright added a service ace during QU’s run towards daylight, later Grattan struck again, and Krista Bennett had a service ace of her own, and another a few points later, Grattan used a light tap over the net for the team’s 24th points, and Robinson ended the set with a kill.
Terrier points came in spades from Marina Georgieva who had a kill to start the match and a service ace soon afterward. Ali Long and Amanda Rojas shared a block, and later Rojas and Abby Clear shared one as well. Georgieva added another smash, other kills followed from Long, Clear, Naomi Flinders, and another from Georgieva. Rojas and Georgieva had good defensive saves to keep play alive on the final point before the ultimate QU win as well.
In set 2, the two teams went and back and forth until they tied at 14, but after that Quinnipiac went on a n 11 to 2 run to take the set 25-16 and put them within one set of victory. Points for the Bobcats included a kill from Robinson to open the set, and another afterward, Wright contributed a good defensive save which eventually led to a QU point, a point later, Carey had a good diving save, and eventually Payne tapped the ball over for a kill, Carey had a pair of kills of her own soon after, Grattan got in on the scoring, and the Bobcats also benefited from attack errors by the Terriers. After the set was tied at 14 Conklin received a set and smashed it in, and Payne spiked the ball off the blockers. As the run continued Carey launched a missile of a spike and Conklin and Payne shared a block.
Also during this set was an incredibly long rally where each side had a ton of great defensive saves. Wright, Robinson, and Carey all got in on keeping the ball alive for QU and Georgieva, Flinders, and Feliz Ramirez were among those keeping the ball in play for SFNY. Conklin took a set and blasted it over the net to end the rally though.
In the closing moments a block from Grattan and Payne, and two Grattan kills sandwiched around a Bennett serve that went unreturned took the set.
St. Francis points included one of Georgieva’s many service aces, a variety of QU attack errors, another Ace later by Georgieva, and much later a cross court kill from Jillian Tracy.
St. Francis was disinterested in allowing the sweep though and snagged the 25-18 win in set 3. Terrier points included a kill from Tracy, a teammate’s service ace just in bounds, a kill from Jayma Copeland, a shared block from Georgieva and Tracy, another kill from Copeland, much later Clear had a kill off the defenders, with some QU attack errors sprinkled in between, Long had a pair of kills late, and Flinders kept the ball alive on a rally which eventually lead to Georgieva picking up the kill, Flinders had a kill of her own and it was followed by two from Copeland, the second ended the set.
Quinnipiac’s points came in part from Conklin and Payne earlier, a cross court blast from Tanner Celestin, a hammered shot from a jumping Robinson, a block from Payne and Conklin, a tip from Celestin mid-set, a big kill from Carey, some SFNY attack errors, another smash from Carey, Conklin punched the ball into a middle gap, and came up with a block for the last Bobcats point of the set.
Quinnipiac could still take the match with a win in set 4, but it would take more than the usual number of points to settle things as St. Francis fought off the Bobcats to take a 29-27 win. After the two teams reached a 7-7 tie, the Terriers rolled to a big lead, and were up 13-20, but the Bobcats climbed right back into it and before long it was 23-23. Conklin came up with a block for the Bobcats to take the lead, but a kill from Georgieva tied it back up. She then added a second kill to regain the Terrier lead, however a kill out of bounds tied the score again. A block by the Bobcats took a one point lead for them, but Georgieva responded, and a kill from Copeland regained the lead for SFNY. A serve into the net put the score at 27-27, but Copeland struck again for a 28th point, and a Quinnipiac attack took care of the set 29-27.
Points for St. Francis prior to the 23-23 tie included a kill from Georgieva to open the set, a blast from the hand of Flinders, a service ace from Kamalei Clifton, two more kills from Flinders, a block from Copeland, a smash through the blockers from Georgieva, after a key defensive save by Rojas a teammate picked up a kill, Georgieva and Clear had a block, Flinders had another defensive play later though QU got the point, Georgieva and Long each had kills, and Georgieva added two more and a service ace late. Flinders and Tracy shared a block, and Flinders had a later kill.
For the Bobcats in the close effort points included the block from Payne and Conklin, a typhooned kill from Payne, a service ace from Wright, two wallops from Grattan, and later 2 successive kills from Robinson, much later Celestin whammed the ball into a back gap, and Payne had a kill off the defenders and out of play. Later Lawler set the ball to Grattan who unleashed it, and Robinson followed with a kill, Lawler would serve up another one to Grattan for another big kill, and Robinson would follow up her own kill with a block. It would be Grattan who tied the set at 23 with yet another kill as well.
So it was on to set 5, the first team to 15 wins (provided they win by 2 points.) Quinnipiac roared out of the gate with a service ace from Lawler a couple of SFNY errors, a tap over the net from Payne, and a block from Payne and Conklin, all followed by Robinson destroying an errant SFNY set pass over the net for a 6-0 lead. SFNY responded with 6 points of their own including two straight kills from Copeland. She added a third straight kill to take the lead, and combined with a QU attack error, and Georgieva’s service ace the lead was now 9-6 St. Francis. QU broke the 9 point scoring run after an SFNY attack error and a kill from Payne. A Tracy spike lead to a QU four hits penalty and the lead was 10-8. The two sides traded points and it was soon 12-10. Long had a kill and Clear added a block and it was 14-10. The Terriers needed one point to take it, but a serve out of bounds returned the serve and a point to QU. Two attack errors from SFNY made the score 14-13, Lawler and Grattan’s tandem block tied it up and a service ace from Carey took the lead. Robinson ended it with a spike capping the comeback and giving QU their second win of the season and first in NEC play.
Statistically for the Bobcats, Payne and Grattan had 13 kills, Robinson 11, and Carey 10. Lawler added 47 assists to her collegiate record, and Wright had 29 digs, with Robinson adding 28 as well. Bennett had 2 service aces on the day as did Wright. Payne shared 9 blocks on the day and Conklin shared 7. Grattan took part in 6.
For St. Francis, Georgieva had 15 kills on the day, Copeland 14 (despite only playing in 4 sets), and Flinders 10. Clifton had 31 assists, and Ramirez had 29 digs, with Georgieva having 26 as well. Georgieva was also responsible for 6 of the team’s 7 service aces. The team also had a smattering of blocks on the day.
Head Coach Robin Lamott Sparks’ Bobcats bring their record to 2-14 and 1-3 in conference. Micha Acoba’s St. Francis squad dropped to 1-8 and 0-4 in the NEC.
Editor’s Note: This is based on notes taken at the match, normally verified against the official play by play if possible. Reports focus on offense since it is easier to track but note defensive play whenever possible. It is difficult to note things like digs and assists although they are no doubt vital to the game. Also, a lot happens in a volleyball game, far more than can fit into a report, so this just notes some of it.