Granger’s huge night leads to Colonials win and more


Photo credit: Michael Sciulli

Jonathan Hanna, Sports Assistant Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP– On a cold November evening, the Robert Morris volleyball team (23-3, 13-0) hosted the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (12-13 8-5), looking not only to stay undefeated in Northeast Conference play but also win their first NEC Regular Season title since 2008. That is exactly what the Colonials did, beating the Blue Devils in five sets, 3-2 (25-18, 25-23, 17-25, 21-25, 15-8).

On the NEC regular-season title, Coach Dale Starr said “I imagined us having a good season. I was a bit upset when we were picked to finish fifth in the NEC coaches poll, we’ve used that as a rallying cry. But to be 23-3, no, I did not imagine that. I expected us to approach 20 wins come tournament time.”

Robert Morris started the first set out strong, winning the first three points, but the Blue Devils battled back, and after ten points of play, it was 6-4 Colonials. For the next few points, it was a back-and-forth match between the two squads, with the largest run being two 3-0 runs by each team.

Robert Morris, however, ended the first set on an 11-3 run, to win the first set 25-18. Last week’s Molten/NEC Defensive Player of the Week and Molten/NEC Player of the Week, Emma Granger, led the Colonials with seven kills in the first set. For the Blue Devils, Isabelle Roufs was the kill leader with five.

In the second set, it was more of the same between the two teams. With the score at 10-6, Robert Morris took their first timeout of the set. After the Colonials built a 15-8 lead, the Blue Devils came storming back on a 5-1 run of their own to bring the game to a 16-13 Colonials lead; and again came back to tie the game at 20 apiece.

Despite the strong effort by the Blue Devils to close out the set, it was not enough, as the Colonials took the second set by a score of 25-23. Emma Granger led the Colonials with eight kills in the set, and Isabelle Roufs had four for the Blue Devils.

In the third set, Central Connecticut turned the tide on the Colonials, rushing out to an early 7-2 lead. It didn’t get much prettier for the Colonials in the third set, as they dropped the frame 25-17. Robert Morris’ 17 points were tied for the second-lowest number of points in a set this season (They scored 17 against Central Michigan (20-5, 10-3 MAC) on September, 20; and 15 against Rider (13-13, 10-4 MAAC) on September 14).

The fourth set started off similar to the third for the Colonials, as Central Connecticut jumped out to a 14-10 lead. Robert Morris stormed back to take the lead 15-14 thanks to two aces by Emma Henderson. At the end of the fourth set, the Colonials were headed to their first fifth set of NEC play, losing 25-21.

Despite it being only their second time in five sets this season, Robert Morris came out eager to get it over with, leading 8-3 when the teams switched sides. Fortunately for the Colonials, it was the same on the other side of the net, as the Colonials won the fifth set 15-8, and stayed undefeated in NEC play.

In the game, the star of the match for RMU was Emma Granger, who set a program record with 33 points in the match, and tied a program record with 26 kills in the match. Granger, who also added three service aces, said after the game; “I’m just so thankful to have a team like this, without them, I couldn’t do what I do. It’s like a family dynamic.”

The win also marked head coach Dale Starr’s 300th win with Robert Morris. “It just means I’ve been around a long time, I’ve just had a great staff, [assistant coach] Danny’s [Doherty] been a big part of almost 100 of those wins. I’ve been blessed with a great staff, I’ve been blessed to be in this business all these years.”

Robert Morris looks to stay undefeated Saturday night as they host the Saint Francis Brooklyn Terriers (13-6, 6-8 NEC) in their last regular-season matchup at the UPMC Events Center. To prepare, Emma Granger said she would “get a lot of sleep, and some ice, and just refocus and stay hungry like Dale [Starr] tells us.”