FITCHBURG, Mass. - The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) volleyball team got off to a roaring start to the 2019 campaign, sweeping its season-opening tri-match on Saturday over the Bay Path University (BPU) Wildcats and Fitchburg State University (FSU) Falcons inside Parkinson Gymnasium at FSU. With the victories, the Blue Jays start the year 2-0, while the Falcons move to 1-1 and the Wildcats slip to 0-2 as Fitchburg State topped Bay Path in the opening match of the day.
Score: Bay Path 0, Saint Joseph 3 (16-25, 17-25, 9-25)
Records: Bay Path (0-2) | Saint Joseph (1-0)
Saint Joseph raced out to a 7-3 lead in the opening set following a kill by senior outside hitter Lauren Pelletier (South Windsor, Conn.) before Bay Path answered with a kill from sophomore Lydia Clifford (Coventry , R.I.) to make the score 7-4. The Blue Jays secured the set one victory on a kill by sophomore middle blocker Nina Lestrud (Torrington, Conn.) for the 25-18 final and early 1-0 advantage.
In the second set, the Blue Jays grabbed a 12-6 edge following a service ace from freshman setter Nyah Young (Swansea, Mass.), but the Wildcats responded with a kill from Delaney Ivas (Adams, Mass.) to cut the lead to 16-7. Saint Joseph would respond though and would take the second set 25-17 on a service ace by freshman libero Natalia Rabassa (Juana Diaz, P.R.).
In the final set, Bay Path notched the first two points on service aces by Kiana Ortiz (Springfield, Mass.) before Saint Joseph took an 8-4 margin on a kill from junior outside hitter Aminah Tsonga (Plainville, Conn.). Things would get interesting when the Wildcats were able to pull within 10-7, but USJ locked in and rattled off an 8-0 run to take command of the third set en route to a 25-9 final margin and 3-0 sweep to start the season.
Bay Path was led by Khyarah Gaston-Feliciano (Holyoke, Mass.) with a team-best six assists and one dig, while Clifford added six assists, three kills, two digs and a solo block.
For the Blue Jays, Young finished with a match-leading 22 assists and five service aces, while Tsonga chipped in with seven kills, six service aces, and three digs. Freshman middle blocker Shannon Carey (Bayport, N.Y.) was perfect in the match with a 1.000 hitting percentage posting seven kills in seven total attacks in her first collegiate competition.
USJ posted an impressive .373 hitting percentage as a team in the victory and tallied 18 service aces. BPU was held to a .000 hitting percentage and just six service aces, while the Blue Jays won the defensive battle holding a 30-18 advantage in digs.
Score: Fitchburg State 1, Saint Joseph 3 (11-25, 25-18, 22-25, 18-25)
Records: Fitchburg State (1-1) | Saint Joseph (2-0)
Saint Joseph took a 10-6 margin in the opening set before Fitchburg State answered with a point to cut the lead to 10-7. The Blue Jays would secure the first set victory though on a kill from freshman Sarah Haire (Vernon, Conn.) for the 25-11 final.
In the second set, the Falcons would run out to an early lead and grabbed a 9-3 margin on a service ace from sophomore Chloe Guzman (Pawtucket, Conn.), but the Blue Jays rallied for three straight points as sophomore outside hitter Hannah Benson (Terryville, Conn.) connected on a service ace and trimmed it to 9-6. FSU would take the second set though as the Falcons got a three-point swing of their own late in the set to take command and swing the momentum. Then, senior Emily Beauvais (Greenfield, N.H.) and junior Paige Anderson (Winchendon, Mass.) notched kills to complete the 25-18 victory and even the match.
Saint Joseph answered back in the third set however, taking the swing set 25-22 for a 2-1 lead. Tsonga gave the visitors an early 11-6 advantage on a service ace before Guzman cut the deficit to 18-15 on a kill. Tsonga delivered another clutch service ace to cap a late 4-1 run and build a 22-16 cushion. FSU wouldn't go quietly though and responded with a quick 4-0 run to get within 22-20, but the Blue Jays held on for the 25-22 third set victory with a kill from Benson and a pair of miscues from the Falcons.
The Blue Jays secured their second victory on the season in the fourth set, but it wouldn't come easy. Trailing 5-3 early, USJ stormed back with an 8-1 run to catapult them ahead 11-6. Then with the score 16-13, the visitors converted nine of the last 14 points with newcomer Carey registering a service ace for the 25-18 fourth set final and 3-1 victory.
Fitchburg State was led by Guzman with 10 digs, two kills, two assists and one service ace, while Anderson added six kills and eight digs. Freshman Sophie Mitchell (Burlington, Mass.) registered a team-high seven kills and .385 hitting percentgae for the Falcons.
Rabassa notched 13 digs and two service aces to pace USJ, while Tsonga added six kills, seven digs and a pair of service aces. Benson posted a match-high nine kills to go with nine digs, narrowly missing a double-double. Carey was stellar for the Blue Jays once again, hitting .312 in the match with six kills. On the day, Carey hit .522 with 13 kills against just one error.
USJ hit .116 as a team in game two opposed to FSU who hit .042. The Blue Jays had 10 service aces to the Falcons' seven with FSU holding a slight edge in digs 44-42.
USJ has a week hiatus until they return back to the floor next on Saturday, September 7 with another road tri-match at Mount Holyoke with SUNY Cobleskill. The Blue Jays faceoff with Mount Holyoke in the opener at 10:00 a.m. before playing SUNY Cobleskill at 12:00 p.m.