Colonials’ comeback effort falls short against CCSU


Jordan Redinger, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP– It came down to the fifth set in this evening’s NEC women’s semifinal volleyball match between Robert Morris University (25-5, 15-1) and Central Connecticut State University (15-14, 10-6). The Colonials fell 15-12 in the final set.

For the first time since 2008, the Colonials hosted the NEC Women’s Volleyball Championship Tournament at the UPMC Events Center. Unfortunately for the Colonials, they would not make it out of the first match.

In their last meeting in regular season play, the Blue Devils and Colonials went for five sets with RMU coming out victorious. Coming into this weekend, RMU was the first-place seed with CCSU sitting in fourth.

The Colonials came out looking slow in the first two sets, the team seemed to be scoring for both sides. Multiple ball handling, attack and service errors found them putting points on the board for CCSU rather than themselves.

Although RMU’s Emma Granger and Alyssa Hudak stood out with several kills throughout the first set, it was not enough to compensate for the slow start.

RMU lost the first set, 24-26, with a service error by Granger.

The second set was much the same in Colonial errors.

Although the Colonials got on the board first, the Blue Devils were able to be effective on both offense and defense. They set up a wall that neutralized even Granger’s dominance.

The Colonial defense tightened up a lot in the second set, but the usual momentum was not there. CCSU closed the second set with a kill that put them up two sets to none.

The third set changed the whole momentum of the match, however, as the Colonials began to show some fight.

It was a set full of Colonial kills coming from Maria Alfano, Alyssa Hudak, Lauren Kolenik and Whitney Brown. As the momentum picked-up, so too did the play on both sides.

The RMU wall of defenders was potent, getting several important blocks. It was a wild sprint out-of-bounds by Nikolette Zanolli that brought the ball back into play and changed the tempo of the whole match.

Kolenik capitalized on this play with a kill, tying the set at 23-23. To the roar of a home crowd hoping for a comeback, RMU took the third set 25-23.

Showing a refusal to quit, the Colonials came back to play in the fourth set. Although the Blue Devils got on the board first, it was a dominant display by the Colonials.

Granger finally made it past the wall with several fast spikes that racked up points for the Colonials. Long volleys kept going by some wild dives from the Colonials helped keep them ahead for most of the match.

Maria Alfano was lethal, frequently finding holes in the CCSU defense and having several unanswered spikes.

A kill by Hudak followed immediately by a serving ace from Granger sealed the set for the Colonials, 26-24. The Colonials appeared to have found their momentum while CCSU showed signs of frustration.

In a quick fifth set, however, CCSU was able to clinch the win. It was tight play for the first several volleys, each team alternately scoring back-and-forth.

Granger had two serving aces to put the set at 12-12 before she had a serving error. CCSU took advantage and came out victorious in the final frame, edging out RMU 15-12.

RMU closed out the game with Granger leading the team with 23 of the team’s 65 total kills. The Colonials had a total of 13 blocks and 5 service aces.

In the second semifinal game, second-ranked Sacred Heart University (19-11, 14-3 NEC) faced off against fourth-place Long Island University (12-17, 11-5 NEC).

The SHU raiders took the first two sets with ease, winning 25-15 and 25-19. LIU proved to be more of a challenge in the third set, but SHU closed out the match, winning the set 25-21. They will face CCSU in tomorrow’s championship game in the UPMC Events Center at 4 p.m.