By David F. Pendrys [Modest Image Gallery]
FAIRFIELD, CT- The Sacred Heart Pioneers pulled off a great comeback to defeat the Erskine Flying Fleet Thursday Night at the Pitt Center.
In set 1 Erskine was out to a lead late, but Sacred Heart battled back to tie it at 18. The Pioneers shot out to a two point lead thanks in part to a Benjamin Thomas service ace, however, Mike Kawa of Erskine but an end to the run with a big jumping spike. Brad Borsay and Nick Hunt each responded for SHU with a kill, though Neal Stanley of Erskine responded to stop their momentum. Jose Juelle’s smash through the Erskine blockers put the home team within 2 of victory, but a serve into the net by the Pioneers gave their opponents a point. Corey Marks of the Fleet then popped his spike sideways off a defender and into the seats, Stanley, Marks, and Omar Melendez shared a huge block to tie the set at 23. Their teammate, Mike Michelau regained the lead with a rocket launched from his hand, and Melendez and Marks teamed up again on a block to end the set 25-23.
In set 2 the two teams kept even early as they each scored ten points, but Erskine proceeded to snag four points in a row and SHU had to pursue them. The red and white did cut the lead to 22-20, but Erskine closed the door as Marks set the ball to Kawa who blasted it over. Raymond Satagaj’s kill kept deficit still at 2, but Kawa’s attack that followed placed Erskine one away from the win. Borsay’s spike off a defender’s fingertips kept SHU alive, but Melendez crushed an attack at a Pioneer who couldn’t even set up a dig before it smacked off of him for the set win 25-22.
With the match theirs if they could take set 3, Erskine edged their hosts slightly early on, but SHU kept pace and tied the set at 15 thanks to Borsay’s huge kill. Erskine returned to the lead pulling out to 20-17 thanks in part to four kills by Kawa in that time. It became more dire for the Pioneers as the visitors kept going to lead 23-20. Travis Vonholt stopped the Erskine scoring, and a Fleet player spiking into the net cut the lead to 1, but the dangerous Kawa struck yet again. It was 24-22 when Erskine committed a double hit on an attempted return. Vonholt and Juelle then came up with a stuff block to tie the set at 24. Erskine proceed to commit two attack errors in succession and SHU had survived to win the set. They still trailed 2-1 however.
Erskine could still take care of business if they won set 4, but Heart had other ideas as they took and early lead and held it reaching an 18-14 advantage. Erskine’s time out seemed to work however, as they came out of the gate scoring, including a block from Melendez and Kawa, a kill from Stanley, and a service ace from Kawa to tie the set at 19. Juelle responded blasting a cross court kill, but SHU served into the net and the score was 20-20. Two more Sacred Heart attack errors had them in deep trouble. But on the next volley, the ball sailed up into the rafters bouncing off multiple support beams before coming back down and was set up and returned for a point. Erskine claimed that SHU took four hits to get the ball over, but the referees consulted and disagreed. Still SHU was down a point and made things worse when they served into the net. Vonholt stopped the bleeding smacking the ball to the floor, and Erskine committed an error. The set was tied at 23-23 and later 24-24. Borsay stepped up and unleashed a furious kill off the defender’s hand to the floor. He then followed this up with a lighter touch sailing the ball slowly over the blocking line and to mid court for a 26-24 set win.
It was a whole new game at this point, anyone could win in the abbreviated set 5. Erskine took a 3-0 lead thanks to errors and a Melendez ace. SHU tied it back up and then started rolling in part due to Erskine attack errors. It was soon 8-4. The Flying Fleet gave chase, but they could get no closer than 2 points. Juelle came up with a tremendous wallop, and this was followed by Jason Kinney serving a ball that ricocheted off several opposing players before hitting the floor for a big ace. Kawa tried to stop the momentum with a kill, but Thomas set it to Satagaj who unleashed a painful spike on the defense. Kawa responded yet again to keep within 3, but Borsay extended the lead to 14-10, and on the next back and forth, Juelle ended it. SHU won 15-10, taking the match 3-2. Erskine dropped to 9-10, and SHU rose to 3-15 on the season.
A quick look at the stats posted by SHU showed Borsay leading the team with 20 kills while notching a .368 kill percentage. Juelle had 14. (.212) and Vonholt had 10 with a .625 kill percentage. Vonholt and Satagaj each shared 4 blocks of the team’s 16. Thomas had 51 assists on the day, Borsay had 9 digs, and Aj Logosh 8 as the digs were well spread out. Erskine’s Kawa had 20 kills, and Michelau 15. Stanley had 8 and a .294 kill percentage. Marks had 43 assists, Michael Schneck had 13 digs. Stanley and Marks each 1 solo block and shared 4 others. Kawa shared 6 blocks, and Melendez had 5.