Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – The Elms College women's volleyball team split a pair of non-conference matches at the Mount Holyoke College tri-match Saturday afternoon at Mildred Howard Gymnasium. The Blazers fell to the host Lyons, 3-1, and then captured a 3-1 victory over Simmons College.
Match 1: Mount Holyoke 3, Elms 1 (25-21, 20-25, 13-25, 18-25)
In the opening match against Elms (3-1 W; 21-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-18), the Blazers took control early with an 18-12 lead. The Lyons responded with five unanswered points to bring to game to within one (18-17), but a four-point streak, including the set-winning kill from outside hitter Danielle Redding (Las Vegas, N.V./Bishop Gorman) gave Elms a 1-0 advantage in the match.
In the second set, the teams battled to 21-all until Mount Holyoke scored three straight points to win the set and tie the match at 1-1. Momentum continued into the third set for the Lyons as Mount Holyoke quickly built a double-digit lead. Pacing the effort was junior outside hitter Joy Maran (Santa Fe, N.M./Santa Fe Prep), whose three early service aces helped MHC open a 7-1 lead on its way to the 25-13 set win and a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Lyons carried the momentum into the final set, opening up a 16-5 advantage following a kill from junior setter Melissa Stewart (San Diego, Calif./Trinity Classical Academy). The Blazers were able to take advantage of several MHC errors, pulling to within eight (23-15) late, but MHC held strong with a pair of kills to close out the 3-1 match victory.
Match 2: Elms 3, Simmons 1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20)
In the opening set, play was close early until a string of Shark errors helped the Blazers to a 12-6 advantage. Elms added an ace from sophomore Hannah Adams (Deerfield, Mass.) and a pair of kills from freshman Hannah Pichardo (South Glen Falls, N.Y.) to escort the lead to 19-8. The Sharks battled back with an 8-1 run, featuring three kills from sophomore Morgan Weeg (Goodyear, Ariz.) and two aces from senior Amber Peterson (Las Vegas, Nev.), to cut the deficit to 20-17. Redding notched an ace, followed by a strike from freshman Ayanna Meadows (Springfield, Mass.) to maintain a 23-19 edge, and then errors from the Sharks handed Elms the 25-19 win.
The squads traded points to open the second set, but the Blazers would grab a 14-11 edge with a kill from Meadows. The Sharks responded with three kills and two aces to capture a 16-14 lead. Elms tied the match at 19-19 but the Sharks pushed to the edge of victory with five straight points to take a 24-19 lead. The Blazers held off defeat for four consecutive points, but a kill from Peterson even the score at 1-1.
Trailing 10-9 in the third set, the Blazers regained control with 5-0 run to control a 14-10 advantage. Pichardo and classmate Dakota Stewart (Victoria, Texas) tallied back-to-back kills, and then Stewart struck again to build a 20-15 gap. Down the stretch, Elms capitalized on Shark errors, along with a kill from Redding and an ace from Adams to hold a 2-1 lead with a 25-18 win.
The Blazers led throughout the final set, owning a 14-6 advantage behind a strike from Redding. Simmons worked at the gap with three kills from Peterson and two aces from sophomore Kenna McCarthy (Shelter Island, N.Y.) to close the lead to 14-12. Elms created separation with a 5-1 run, sparked by kills from Redding, Adams and Stewart, to hold a 19-13 edge. The sides traded points down the stretch, but Redding sealed the four-set victory with a kill.
The Blazers delivered a balanced attack with five players recording four or more kills, paced by a team-high nine kills and two aces. Adams grabbed a match-high 14 digs with six kills, while Pichardo added six kills. Stewart logged her foruth double-double of the season with a team-high 21 assists, 10 digs and four kills, and Meadows chipped in four kills and five digs in the win.
Weeg led the Sharks attack with a match-high 18 kills. Peterson added nine kills and a match-high five aces, while McCarthy dished out 24 assists with eight digs and four aces.
The Blazers (4-2) will return to the court with a non-conference road tilt at Framingham State Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.