By David F. Pendrys
NEW HAVEN, CT – In a non-conference match either team could have won, the Caldwell Cougars managed to prevail over the Southern Connecticut Owls volleyball team Wednesday night. Set 1 got out of hand quickly as Caldwell pulled out to a 15-8 lead. Southern did pursue and closed the gap to five points, but Caldwell’s head start got them to a 25-20 set win. The Cougars hit for .293 in the set compared to .179 for Southern. SCSU falls to 19-8 overall and Caldwell rises to 18-6, but their conference positions were unaffected.
Set 2 was an entirely different story as the Owls got out to a 10-3 lead, only to leave the door open for Caldwell to cut the deficit to 12-8. A Southern time out made a big difference and they rattled off 5 straight points. Jillian Chambers had two Kills during the run and shared a Block. Alyssa Gage shared a block with Chambers and had a solo of her own, and Anna Venard served up an Ace. Three straight errors by Caldwell enlarged Southern’s lead even further and eventually the Owls closed it out 25-14. The home team hit for .297 while Caldwell had a weak -.029 hit percentage.
Set 3 started out even enough but Caldwell started a run off a Kill from Marina Schlaepfer, a Block from Avery Stanechewski & Chiara Chiappalone, an Ace from Schlaepfer and a Southern error. After a SCSU time out momentarily stopped the momentum, Stanechewski took it right back with a tap over the blocking line, Jessica Mitchell served up an Ace that hit the net and dropped to a gap in the front line, and Kathleen Compagno and Taryn Auyong shared a block. Southern had to call time again down 12-6, but Caldwell never looked back. SCSU did pursue and fought all the way to a 19-24 score, but on the ensuing volley back and forth that seemed to go on and on, Auyong finally lined up a Kill to end the set 25-19. Oddly enough, in the set Southern hit for .171 and Caldwell .167.
Set 4 would be the most even both teams would have as the two sides whacked the ball back and forth to a 12-12 tie. A Block from Compagno gained Caldwell a lead and a Southern error put the visitor’s up two points. Southern tried to regain the momentum but Caldwell rolled to a 20-17 lead. SCSU was not done though. Coach Barbaro’s time out worked as Jourdan Hodge didn’t let a good defensive save by Alexandra Nimz go to waste, as she smashed a Kill off the blockers and down. An error by Caldwell followed, and then the ever steady Leanna Jadus had a Kill the defenders couldn’t get a Dig on. With the score tied at 20 Southern had new life, and they would grab a 22-21 lead thanks to Kills from Gabriela Vazquez and Gage. Auyong responded for Caldwell though with a Kill and Block to swing the lead back Caldwell’s way. A Southern error made it match point, but Jadus struck again and a Caldwell error tied the set 24-24. Katrina Janssen landed a Kill for the Cougars, and with the match on the line she and Compagno blocked an Owl attack to end it all 26-24. Neither team hit well in the set as Caldwell had a .043 and SCSU a .060 hit percentage. Nonetheless Caldwell got what they needed for the 3-1 match win.
Jadus led SCSU with 17 Kills, Gage had 15, while hitting for .281, and Jillian Chambers contributed 7 while hitting for .294. Nimz led the team with 28 Assists, and Jurgens had 20 as both shared setup roles. Jurgens, Jadus, and Venard had a service Ace each. Gage had 4 blocks including 1 solo, Vazquez shared 4, Hodge shared 5, and Chambers and Jadus each shared 2. Jurgens also had a solo Block. Vazquez led the team with 25 Digs, Venard had 17, Jadus 16, and Jurgens 13.
It was fitting Janssen ended the match as she had 19 kills for Caldwell while hitting for .289. She also had a service Ace and shared two Blocks. Schlaepfer had 10 Kills and Auyong had 9. Gabrielle Bennett had 21 Assists and Alyssa Ayala had 12 to set up to the offense. Mitchell had 4 service Aces and also led the team defense with 23 Digs. Auyong also had 15, and Schlaepfer had 10. Compagno posted 9 total Blocks including 3 solo, and 6 shared. Auyong shared 3 Blocks, and Stanechewski and Chiappalone shared 2 as well. Schlaepfer had 2 Aces, Compagno, Janssen, and Ayala had 1 apiece.