By David F.P. [Modest Image Gallery]
BRIDGEPORT, CT- The University of Bridgeport Purple Knights dispatched the Franklin Pierce Ravens 3 sets to 1 Friday night in front of a good crowd and UB’s mascot. UB had picked up the first two sets, but Pierce battled back to overwhelm UB in set 3 25-14. The Purple Knights regrouped and returned the favor with a 25-15 set and match win.
Fighting to keep the match going, the Ravens opened set 3 with 5 straight points. Natasha Ray had the first and fifth of these thanks to her service aces, Madison Duffy tapped the ball over the UB line, and later spiked it off a defender for another point. Bridgeport responded though picking up a point on an attack error, and Ying Shen had a big kill. On the following play UB came up with a key defense play, a teammate kept the ball going and then Michele Santos hit the ball back into play from out of bounds eventually culminating in a Ravens attack error. The teams would trade points but the Ravens would start to pull away.
Pierce’s Catie Swiderski came up with a kill off a blocker ad outside the lines, a pair of attack errors helped the Ravens as well. UB’s Biljana Savic had a kill amidst this, but Swiderski found a middle gap on the next rally back and forth and she sent the ball into it. A few points later Pierce’s Natasha Ray deliver a whap of the ball with success, though Savic not long after would receive a set, jump, hang in the air and blast an attack home. Kellee Cranston picked up another point for Pierce with a tap into a gap. Her team would pick up two more points including Lina Kleinschmidt’s reception of a set which she blasted across the net. UB kept fighting. On a play involving Shen and another teammate one of the UB players rolled to kept the ball in play and it popped up to be returned, unfortunately, Kleinschmidt eventually crushed a kill over and by now Franklin Pierce led 17 to 9.
The Ravens were going to shut the door loudly after this as Ray stepped into serve picked up another ace of the set. Duffy on the next play tapped down an errant UB pass, and Ray followed this by landing a service just within the lines, before…adding yet another service ace when UB couldn’t return it. One attack error later and Pierce was up 22-9. UB’s Shen launched an attack into the Pierce zone, a player dug it and it hit the ceiling returning back unpredictably and hitting the floor. She then spiked the ball at close range off a pair of defenders, it popped straight up and neither could set it. It was near the end however and Katie Jackson of Pierce ended the set with her team’s two last points for the set win.
In set 4 Pierce picked up some early points with a service ace as Kleinschmidt’s serve smacked into the floor just in front of a UB defender. Duffy also hammered an attack down from the net. Though UB kept pace thanks to another hard Savic kill, and a block from Larissa Oliveira, and Shen. Pierce’s Stephanie Svorinic use a precision attack to tie the game at 4 when the ball landed nicely inside a gap. Swiderski stepped up to serve and ricocheted her serve off a Purple Knight and to the floor. She then stepped back and launched the ball off UB player and hard into the seats for a second ace in as many serves. She followed this, with yet another ace as she landed it right in a corner of the court.
Darsel Springer broke this run when her tap over the FP line succeeded. Santos served up an ace herself, though Pierce scored 3 quick points off of Cranston’s kill, Lauren Miller’s service ace just within the play area, and Kleinschmidt and Ray’s tandem block. The Ravens were actually up 11 to 7 at this point. Bridgeport kept up the chase as Shen not surprisingly was there with a kill, and Oliveira received a nice set from a teammate and blasted it down from the net and in for the point. The two teams would continue to jockey for the lead with Kleinschmidt winning a joust at the net with a UB blocker. Savic kabonged the ball off the defenders, and she later would spike through the block. Before long it was 14-14.
Bridgeport went on a decisive 11 and 1 run to take care of business in the set though. Springer redirected her block of an overpass to a gap in the line. Savic blasted another kill across court this time, and spiked the ball right off a blocker for another kill. Shen struck yet again, and after not time, Springer came up with a huge defensive save when she was falling down on her way out of play, she managed to hit it the ball out of play and it dropped between the defender. Sabrina Simas got in on the scoring for UB spiking the ball to the back corner of the Pierce zone. Savic picked up a late service ace as well and the set and match was soon wrapped up.
Statistically (Source: Bridgeport Athletics), Savic led Bridgeport with 16 kills, Shen had 15, and Springer and Oliveira had 7. Simas had a .455 kill percentage, Savic .344 and Shen .333. Fernanda Silva had 36 assists during the evening. Taylor McBeth as libero had 18 digs, Savic 14, and Shen 12. The team had 6 service aces, and Santos and Savic had 2 each. The team had 5 tandem blocks, Oliveira participated in 5 and Shen 4.
For Pierce, Duffy had 10 kills, Jackson and Kleinschmidt had 5 each. Kleinschmidt’s .308 kill percentage led her team. Kellee Cranston had 15 assists, and libero Lauren Miller had 11 digs. The team did have a grand total of 16 service aces including an astounding 9 from Ray. Kleinschmidt had a solo block and participated in 4 others. Duffy had 1 of her own and shared 2 more, Ashley Bruce and Katie Jackson each had 2 shared blocks as well.
Coach Leo Uzcategui’s Purple Knights are now 10-2, Coach Stephanie Dragan’s team drops to 7 and 9.