WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Senior middle blocker Hannah Lemek (Bristol, Conn.) powered the University of Saint Joseph volleyball team past the Fitchburg State University Falcons with a career-high 15 kills as the Blue Jays swept the Falcons, 3-0, in a non-conference match inside the O'Connell Center on Saturday afternoon. The victory improves USJ's overall record to 4-7 on the season, while Fitchburg State slips to 1-8 with the loss.
USJ recorded its third sweep in its past four matches downing Fitchburg State in straight sets 25-22, 25-21 and 25-22. Lemek led the Blue Jays offensive attack finishing the match with a career-high 15 kills and .263 hitting percentage. Sophomore Jasmine Buckley (Wappingers Falls, N.Y) joined Lemek with double-digit kills with 10, while sophomore setter Brenna Miller )McCleary, Wash.) posted her fourth double-double of the season with a match-high 26 assists and match-high 15 digs.
Junior outside hitter Nicole Sylvester (Everett, Mass.) led Fitchburg State with six kills, hit .286 for the match and added 10 digs on the defensive end. Freshman libero Jessica Peirce (Brentwood, N.H.) finished with a team-high 13 digs and junior middle blocker Kristina Osborne (Ashby, Mass.) logged three solo blocks for the Falcons.
The opening set was tightly contested throughout with the Falcons jumping out to an early 10-5 lead after a kill by freshman Lauren Riccardi (Tewksbury, Mass.). USJ would answer with a quick 5-0 spurt to knot things up (10-10) capped by one of three service aces in the set by junior libero Janell Molina (Honolulu, Hawaii). FSU would regain the lead and build a 19-14 advantage, but then USJ finished strong and closed out the set with an 11-3 run to come from behind and take the first set 25-22. Two of the final three points, including the set-winner, came on service aces from Molina.
In the second set things would be tight again early on with the Falcons holding a slight, 6-5, lead before the Blue Jays rattled off another 5-0 run to take a 10-6 edge. They would never trail again in the set on their way to a 25-21 victory to build a 2-0 lead in the match. Lemek accounted for three of the final four points with kills for USJ and posted six total kills across the set.
The Blue Jays showed their resilience once again in the third and final set coming from behind to complete the sweep of the Falcons. A 7-0 run by Fitchburg State put them up 18-13 with the idea of forcing a fourth set, but USJ flipped the momentum and closed out the set and the match with a 12-4 run to take the set 25-22 and match 3-0. A pair of service aces by Buckley were instrumental in the comeback before Lemek capped off her career day with the match-winning kill.
The USJ volleyball team will look to keep things rolling when they return back to the court next on Thursday night on the road at Becker College. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Fitchburg State plays Westfield State next on Wednesday night at home at 7 p.m.