Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College women's volleyball team returned to the win column with a 3-0 (25-19, 32-30, 25-15) non-conference victory over the University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) at Picknelly Arena Thursday night. With the win, the Blazers improve to 5-3 on the season, while the Blue Jays dipped to 1-5 overall.
In the first set, the sides traded points until a kill from junior Rachel Magnuson (Miller Place, N.Y.) put Elms ahead 6-5. The Blazers maintained an edge behind Blue Jay errors, and then an ace from freshman Hannah Pichardo (South Glen Falls, N.Y.) and a kill from junior Danielle Redding (Las Vegas, N.V.) expanded the gap to 12-8. The Blazers pulled away with an 8-2 run, featuring strikes from senior Kate Moriarty (Agawam, Mass.) and freshman Ayanna Meadows (Springfield, Mass.), to take a 20-10 lead. The Blue Jays worked at the deficit with a 6-2 run behind tallies from junior Carly Ruzbasan (Torrington, Conn.) and freshman Janell Molina (Honolulu, HI), but the Blazers held on for the 25-19 win.
The second set turned into an extra point duel between the squads with a kill from Magnuson giving Elms a 10-7 edge. The Blue Jays pulled even at 12-12 on a kill from junior Brenna Miller (McCleary, Wash.), but the Blazers responded with three straight points to take a 15-12 lead. The Blue Jays outpointed Elms, 10-7, through the middle of the set to even the score at 22-22. Knotted at 24-24, the Blazers held off defeat four times, and then a kill from freshman Dakota Stewart (Victoria, Texas) handed Elms a 30-29 lead. USJ tied the score at 30-30, but the Blazers wrapped up the win with back-to-back kills from Magnuson and Meadows to grab a 2-0 lead.
The Blazers lead wire-to-wire in the final set, jumping to a 7-3 lead on Blue Jay errors and strikes from Redding and Meadows. USJ trimmed the gap to 8-6 on consecutive strikes from senior Hannah Lemek (Bristol, Conn.), but a block from Stewart sparked a 5-2 run to build a 13-8 lead. The Blue Jays closed the gap to 15-13 with a 5-2 run, but Elms responded with seven straight points, powered by strikes from Stewart, Meadows and Redding, along with two aces from Moriarty, to possess a 22-13 advantage en route to the 25-15 win.
The Blazers delivered a balanced attack with five players notching five-plus kill, paced by a match-high 10 kills and 15 digs from Redding. Magnuson added seven kills, while Stewart posted her sixth double-double of the season with a match-high 26 assists, 12 digs, and six kills. Moriarty contributed 10 digs, five kills and a match-high three aces, while Meadows chipped in eight digs and five kills in the win.
Sophomore Jasmine Buckley (Beacon, N.Y.) led the Blue Jays with eight kills and a match-high 20 digs. Ruzbasan tallied seven kills and 14 digs, while Lemek and Miller added five kills each. Miller dished out 15 assists, and freshman Carlie Gonzalez (Los Fresnos, Texas) nabbed 12 digs.
The Blazers will return to the court when they travel to New England College for a tri-match against Nichols and the host Pilgrims Saturday at Noon. The Blue Jays will host a tri-match against Norwich and Medgar Evers Saturday at Noon.