ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. – The Saint Anselm College women's volleyball team defeated the Chargers from the University of New Haven, 3-1, in the opening round of the NCAA Division II East Region Tournament at Molloy College. With the four-set winner, Saint Anselm captures its first-ever NCAA tournament victory.
The Hawks return to action Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the East Region Semifinals, taking on the winner of Thursday night's fourth game between top-seeded Molloy and eighth-seeded Adelphi. Saint Anselm reached a single-season record with its 21st overall victory, moving to 21-11, while the Chargers, a perennial NCAA power, end their season with a 16-11 overall record.
The set scores, in favor of the Hawks, were 25-23, 27-25, 18-25 and 25-21. After losing in last year's NCAA East Region Quarterfinals to the same team, the Hawks earned their third win of this season against the Chargers and only the sixth in all-time history. As a team, the Hawks recorded 62 kills which is tied for fourth in program history among four-set matches.
Senior Catie McCarthy (Warrenton, Va.) registered a team-high 18 kills while junior Elise Jolly (Merrimack, N.H.) followed with a 16-kill performance. McCarthy continues to move up the single-season kills list as she is now at 371, trailing the all-time leader by only 14. Freshman Michelle Henwood (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) was one assist shy away from a career-high, setting up 46 of her team's 62 kills. Henwood and classmate Caroline Belmontez (San Diego, Calif.) earned 19 digs each with Belmontez also logging a double-double with a personal-best 10 assists.
Henwood exited the game with 1,029 assists this season, becoming only the third student-athlete in team history to reach 1,000 in one campaign - she is the only freshman to reach that milestone.
After the first set was tied five times early on, the Hawks went on to take an 8-6 lead following three kills by senior Madison Sollows (Barnstable, Mass.). The Chargers managed to tie the set on multiple occasions and draw the match even at 18, but the Hawks came out of a timeout with three consecutive points. It looked as though Saint Anselm would take the set with ease, but the Chargers earned the next three of four points to cut the deficit to two, 23-21. McCarthy responded and clinched the first set victory with a kill to capture a 25-23 win.
The second set would go back and forth midway through the set, but the Hawks drew even at 15 following a strike by McCarthy. The senior All-Region pick kept the momentum going as she fired two kills to boost the Hawks lead to 17-15. Jolly added a kill in the process to provide the Hawks an 18-15 lead. With advantage on the Hawks side, the Chargers went on a slim 4-3 run to trim the deficit to 21-19. The Chargers responded with a vengeance, taking the next five out of seven points to tie the second set at 24. Jolly and junior Holly Manchester (Lodi, Wis.) recorded the final two points to provide the Hawks a 27-25 win.
The third set was started strong by New Haven, who pulled ahead with a 12-8 lead. The Hawks answered with three straight points to cut the margin to one, 12-11, but New Haven upped its lead to 19-14 after back-to-back service aces by Sammie Paguia. New Haven went on to win the third set, 25-18.
Saint Anselm controlled the fourth set with a 10-6 lead after kills by Sollows, junior Jordan Schamp (Plymouth, Mich.) and McCarthy. Following a timeout by New Haven, the Hawks extended their lead to 13-6 with three straight points but the Chargers followed up with four straight points going their way and cutting the score to 14-11. New Haven powered back and cut the fourth set to one-point margin at 19-18 with the set still in favor of the Hawks, following back-to-back kills by Mallory Nowicki. Sollows and Schamp responded with two of their own to increase the Hawks lead to 23-19. Schamp secured the win for the Hawks with a kill to send Saint Anselm to its first NCAA victory.
Nowicki led the Chargers with 14 kills while Paguia registered 27 assists. Four student-athletes posted double-digit digs with Julia Guarniere earning a team-high 20.
Photo Courtesy of Emily Dorko