By David F. Pendrys
WEST HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Hawks volleyball team was at times on the verge of taking sets and possibly upsetting the Bryant Bulldogs Tuesday night, but it was not to be. The visitors swept U of H 25-22, 26-24, and 25-21 despite valiant efforts by the Hawks to stay in the match. Neither team had impressive hit percentage numbers as Bryant hit for .173 and Hartford for .117.
Jenna Bridges led Hartford with 12 Kills, Paulina Modestow had 8, and Abby Nash scored 6. Megan Anderson and Bridges both had two Service Aces apiece. Bridges also led the squad with 5 blocks (2 solo, 2 shared), Katy Henchy had 3 (all shared) and Anderson 2 (all shared). Anderson also had 32 Assists on the night. Digs were spread throughout the team with Nash having 11, Montrashay Worley, the Libero, had 9, and Megan Scherer 9. Bridges led the primary Hartford attackers with a .474 hit percentage.
Julia Flynn led Bryant with 11 Kills, Kiley Robbins had 10, and Kristin Kingi had 5. Alisi Motu’apuaka had 2 Service Aces, Kingi and Kristyn Sperry had 1 apiece. Alexandra Lunsford had 6 Blocks (2 solo, 4 shared) and Robbins (all shared) and Richmeyer (all shared) had 5 each. Sperry had 18 Assists, and Motu’apuaka had 10. Flynn also led the team in Digs with 9, Kingi had 7 and the Libero, Erika Ward had 6. Robbins had the best hit percentage of the main attackers with a .400 number.
It should illustrate how free wheeling the game was, that the two Liberos did not lead their team in Digs. As once the ball got flying it was all hands on deck to keep it in play.
Whereas both teams had 36 Kills each, Hartford had 25 Attack Errors to Bryant’s 18. Bryant actually had more Service Errors sending up 8 to Hartford’s 7, though Hartford had 3 Block Errors, to Bryant’s 1.
Set 1 opened fairly evenly all the way to a 14-14 tie. Flynn touched off a Bryant run by smacking the ball of the Hartford blocking line for a point, and then unleashing a cross court blast that landed just inside the lines. Two Hartford errors put Bryant up by four and soon the lead would be five, only for Bridges to spike an attack off the fingertips of the defenders. Scherer made a defensive save to keep the ball alive, but Bryant couldn’t return her desperate hit, and another point was Hartford’s. Nash then struck sending the ball off the blockers and out of bounds and Hartford was in two.
Flynn responded to break the run, but two Hartford points, including Nash putting down an errant Bryant pass cut the lead to 1 again. Bryant however would regain the momentum and thanks in part to a timely Block from Kingi and Richmeyer, and some Hartford errors, the lead was 24-20. The Hawks held off the set loss for a few points, but Sperry ended it.
Hartford built a strong 11-6 lead in the second as Bridges, Modestow, Nash, Anderson and Brittany Braun all contributed Kill, and Braun had a Block as well. But Bryant clawed back into it after Kingi, and Richmeyer teamed up for a Block, and then Sperry served up an Ace. The teams traded points, but a Kingi Ace and a block from Robbins and Richmeyer cut the lead to 1. By the time Lunsford uncorked a blast from her hand, Bryant had a two point lead. Hartford fought back with Henchy launching a rocket of an attack in that no Dig could handle. The teams traded points, but Bridges posted a Block to regain the lead at 21-20, only to have Kingi and Richmeyer again share a block to blunt the momentum. Bridges again went on offense slashing a cross court Kill to a gap for a 23-22 lead, but Robbins tapping the ball over tied it up. Modestow responded, but Bryant got the point back after Hartford error ended a long back and forth. Robbins then spiked in yet another Kill, and she and Lunsford shared a blocked to end the close set.
Hartford again got out to a lead in the third set taking a 6-3 advantage, only to have Bryant respond with three quick points and then the Bulldogs rolled for awhile reaching a 12-9 lead before two of their errors put Hartford back within 1. Bryant kept the lead narrowly, but Flynn then smashed an attack through the blockers and past two more defenders for a 16-12 lead. The game got precarious for Hartford when Bryant was up to 23-17 but the Hawks kept fighting. Bridges had two straight kills including one following a fantastic defensive save from Anderson. Modestow had a critical save herself and Bridges made it count with a tap attack that D couldn’t handle.
Sperry used a fake set to fool Hartford and send the ball to the back gap to cut off the run, and soon afterward Flynn landed a spike just in bounds to end the set and match.
Bryant rises to 16-10, and Hartford drops to 5-16 in the non-conference encounter.