Quinnipiac volleyball earns first conference win

By on October 2, 2011

The Bobcats hold off a late rally from St. Francis (NY) for 3-2 victory

The Quinnipiac women’s volleyball team picked up a 3-2 victory over St. Francis (NY), holding off a Terrier comeback attempt on Saturday in Burt Kahn Court.  The win was the Bobcats first in Northeast Conference (NEC) play this season.After winning the first two sets, 25-15 and 25-16, the Bobcats (2-14, 1-3 NEC) allowed the Terriers to crawl back into the match.  St. Francis, also looking for their first conference win, won the third and fourth set, sending the match into a fifth and deciding set.

The final set was an intense battle packed with lead changes, but in the end it was the Bobcats that prevailed.

Quinnipiac head coach Robin Lamott Sparks was very pleased with the victory despite the near collapse.

“Every win is a win,” Sparks said.  “It is important to set the tone and we need to hold our home court.”

St. Francis jumped out in front in the first set 10-6, but Quinnipiac fought back to tie it up at 13.

The Bobcats didn’t look back from there, closing out the set on a 12-2 run.  The Bobcats rode the momentum into the second set, cruising to a 25-16 win.

Senior Kelby Carey and sophomore Olivia Grattan led the way through the first two sets with seven kills apiece.  Senior Kayla Lawler also helped pave the way, racking up 22 assists.

“The first two sets were the best offensive production we’ve had all year,” Sparks said.  “Even making mistakes, we let the mistakes go and we just kept moving.”

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, there was a lapse in their stellar play that allowed St. Francis to creep back into the match.  The Terriers took down the third set 25-18, behind 6 kills from freshman Jayma Copeland.

St. Francis continued to fight back, setting the tone in the fourth set, where they jumped out to a 20-14 lead.

The Bobcats felt the tide changing and weren’t going to roll over.  A long volley led to a kill from Quinnipiac freshman Tanner Celestin.  The play blew life back into the Bobcats, sparking an 8-2 run, which leveled the score at 22.

Sophomore Bonnie Conklin came up with a block that gave Quinnipiac its first lead of the set at 24-23.  However, the Bobcats were unable to put away the Terriers.  Quinnipiac even regained the lead 27-26, but once again failed to shut the door.  The Terriers climbed back ahead on a Copeland kill, and went on to win the set 29-27.

“It would have been really easy to just die after losing 29-27,” Sparks said.  “So, the fact that they calmed themselves and came back, I am very proud of them.”

If the Bobcats were at all deflated heading into the deciding set, they didn’t show it.  Quinnipiac won the coin toss and immediately took advantage, opening up the fifth set on a 6-0 run.  The
Terriers responded with a run of their own, scoring nine straight points.

Junior Taylor Payne provided the Bobcats a lift and tallied up three kills to narrow the lead down to 10-9.  But once again, the Terriers answered the Bobcats run, extending their lead to 14-10.

Down 14-0, Sparks didn’t want her team to think about what had previously happened in the match but rather focus on the next play they needed to make.

“I just tried to get their minds thinking about what they were going to do next,” Sparks said.  “It didn’t matter what they had done before, they just needed to play with freedom and here is what we’re going to do.”

On the brink of defeat, Quinnipiac dug deep and went on a 6-0 run to win the match.  The run was capped off by a kill from freshman Brittanie Robinson.

Robinson finished with 11 kills and 28 digs, which are both career-highs.  Grattan and Payne chipped in 13 kills each.

On the day senior Kayla Lawler was being honored for reaching the 3,000 career assist mark, she posted a season-high in assists with 47.

Carey recorded 10 kills and believed, most importantly, that the win will be a major confidence booster for the team.

“I think it is good momentum for us, knowing that we can win and should be winning,” Carey said.

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