WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's volleyball team opened the 2018 season with a split after hosting the Bay Path University Wildcats and UMass Dartmouth Corsairs in a tri-match on Saturday afternoon inside the O'Connell Center. The Blue Jays swept Bay Path 3-0 (25-18, 25-12, 25-19) in the opener before falling in four sets in the second match to the UMass Dartmouth Corsairs 3-1 (15-25, 25-19, 18-25, 16-25) to move to 1-1 on the season. The Corsairs also took the middle match over the Wildcats 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-18). USJ will be back in action next on Thursday, September 6th at home versus the Elms College Blazers at 7:00 p.m.
Game 1 - USJ 3, Bay Path 0
Sophomore Aminah Tsonga (Plainville, Conn.) led Saint Joseph in the opener with 10 kills, while freshman Nina Lestrud (Torrington, Conn.) added six kills and hit .364. Senior Brenna Miller (McCleary, Wash.) facilitated the offense and posted a match-high 23 assists and added a pair of block assists. Classmate Janell Molina (Honolulu, Hawaii) led the defensive effort with 13 digs.
First Set: USJ 25-18
- The Blue Jays jumped out to an early 5-2 lead following a kill by freshman Caitlin Lumpkins (Green, R.I.).
- Bay Path would respond with five straight points to take its first lead of the game, 7-5.
- Both teams would trade points up to a 16-16 tie before USJ rattled off five consecutive points to take control of the match.
- USJ held the Wildcats to just two more points for the remainder of the match and a kill by freshman Hannah Benson (Terryville, Conn.) secured the opening set victory for the Blue Jays.
Second Set: USJ 24-12
- Saint Joseph used a huge 7-0 run off the serve of Molina to take control of the second set right from the beginning.
- Bay Path battled back to pull within 13-6, but the early cushion would be too much for the Wildcats to overcome.
- USJ sparked another big run late scoring six straight points to go up 24-10 before a Tsonga kill concluded the second set.
Third Set: 25-19
- Both teams battled back and forth early on leading to a 10-all stalemate.
- The Blue Jays followed with three straight points, highlighted by a Lestrud Kill, to go up 13-10 and force a Bay Path timeout.
- USJ kept up the pressure out of the timeout and went on a 10-3 run to take over the third set and led 23-13.
- Bay Path didn't go down easy though and fought back with a late 6-0 run, but a solo block by senior Torrie Epps (Windsor, Conn.) ended any chance of a Wildcats comeback and ended the set and match.
USJ hit .200 as a team for the match, holding Bay Path to a -.012 mark. The Blue Jays had 41 digs to the Wildcats' 33. Freshman Shaniqua Thompson (Hamden, Conn.) led Bay Path with five kills.
Game 2 - USJ 1, UMass Dartmouth 3
Benson posted a double-double to lead the way for the Blue Jays in their match against the Corsairs with a team-high 10 kills paired with 14 digs. Tsonga contributed nine kills and 13 digs, while freshman Madison Tufi (Manchester, Conn.) also chipped in with 13 digs. Miller ran the offense once again and finished with 19 assists and Molina controlled the defensive effort with a team-best 16 digs.
First Set: UMD 25-15
- The Blue Jays and Corsairs traded points early on resulting in a 6-6 tie.
- A 3-0 spurt by UMass Dartmouth followed and would give them the lead for good for the remainder of the opening set.
- Benson found the floor with a kill to make it 15-10 halfway through the set, but the Corsairs would close the set with a 10-5 run to take the early advantage.
Second Set: USJ 25-19
- UMass Dartmouth scored the first three points before the Blue Jays ripped off five straight points off a Molina serve to lead early, 5-3.
- Both teams would keep it close throughout the set and it eventually resulted in an 11-all tie halfway through.
- USJ then took over the set and scored four of the next five points to build a 15-12 edge and force a Corsairs' timeout.
- The Blue Jays would never trail for the remainder of the set to even the match 1-1. Tsonga led the charge with four kills for USJ.
Third Set: UMD 25-18
- Four service aces by the Corsairs helped them jump out to an early 9-3 lead in the third set and force a USJ timeout.
- The Blue Jays would battle back and pull within 10-7 powered by back-to-back kills from Benson and Epps.
- However, a 5-0 run ensued by the Corsairs to go up 15-7.
- USJ answered once again and climbed back to within four (15-11) after a Tsonga kill and forced a UMD breather.
- The Corsairs capitalized on the timeout and scored five of the next six points to build a 20-12 and take control of the set and eventually hold on to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Fourth Set: UMD 25-16
- USJ and UMD played even early on and a Benson kill would tie the set 7-7.
- Three straight kills by the Corsairs built the first gap of the fourth set (16-11) and forced a Blue Jays' timeout.
- USJ would get within 17-14, but another four-point swing increased the Corsairs' lead to 21-14.
- The visitors maintained their lead for the remainder of the set and a service ace by junior Jillian Sykora (Waterford, Conn.) ended the set and the match 3-1 in favor of UMD.
USJ hit .070 for the match and held UMD to a .060 hitting percentage, but 18 service aces for the Corsairs would lead them to victory. The Corsairs racked up 85 digs to the Blue Jays' 72. The Blue Jays won the battle at the net and finished with nine team blocks to the Corsairs' five, led by four block assists and one solo block from Epps. Junior Nicole Silverman (Chelmsford, Mass.) led UMass Dartmouth with a match-high 13 kills and added 15 digs to post a double-double.
The USJ women's volleyball team will be back in action next on Thursday at home versus Elms. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.