NEWPORT, R.I. - The Western New England University women's volleyball team rallied from a 5-0 deficit in the fifth set to win 15-11 and earn a 3-2 victory over Salve Regina University in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) action Thursday night inside the Rodgers Recreation Center.
The Golden Bears raced out to an early lead in the first set, forcing a timeout from Salve Regina when the lead ballooned to 15-6 in favor of the visitors. After the timeout the Seahawks scored five of the next six points to close the gap to 16-11 on a service ace from senior Chrissy Fraga (Milford, Mass.). The Golden Bears were the first to reach 20, eventually leading 21-15 after a Seahawks attack error. The Seahawks responded with another 4-1 run to cut the deficit to 3 (22-19 forcing a Western New England timeout. Carly Skibinski (Milford, N.J.) won a point for Western New England out of the timeout, but a Golden Bear error and kill from Cassidy Triblicy (Phoenix, Ariz) narrowed the gap again, this time to two points, 23-21. The visitors scored the next two points however; to take the first set 25-21.
Western New England opened up a 3-2 lead to start the second on a service ace from Jenna Leuck (Dumont, N.J.), but the Seahawks won five straight points, four coming with Fraga at the service stripe to take a 7-3 lead. The Seahawks would never give up that lead, cruising to a 25-16 set victory to even the match 1-1.
The third set was closely contested as the score was tied 10 times and the lead changed 11 times. The set began with both sides playing a game of cat and mouse were one would take a one point lead only to have the other tie the game. With the Golden Bears leading 8-6 the Seahawks won five of the next six points to take a narrow 11-9 lead. The teams exchanged runs and the Golden Bears were able to again tie the game at 15-15. Kills from Kat Mendes (New Bedford, Mass.) and Emily Lipinski (Hampden, Mass.) along with a Samantha Higgins (Coventry, R.I.) gave the Seahawks a 18-15 lead. The Seahawks lead reached four points at 23-19, but the Golden Bears scored six straight points, helped by three kills from Olivia Lathrop (Farmington, Conn.) and two aces from Alona Kornberg (Fair Lawn, N.J.) to win the set and stun the Seahawks.
In the fourth the Seahawks and Golden Bears again were neck and neck, tied at 14-14 after a Lathrop kill. Western New England committed a service error to give the Seahawks a 15-14 lead and they never looked back, going on an 11-3 run to with the set 25-17 and force a fifth and deciding set.
The Seahawks jumped on top 5-0 with Samantha Salwa (Ellington, Conn.) at the service stripe to open the set. The golden Bears remained calm though, scoring eight of the next eleven to even the score 8-8. The Seahawks took a 10-9 lead, but five straight points for the Golden Bears pushed the Seahawks to the edge of defeat. An attack error by Kelsey Armstrong (Groton, Conn.) kept the Seahawks alive but the Golden Bears won the next point, taking a 15-11 set victory and 3-2 match victory for their first CCC victory of the year.
Higgins led the Seahawks with 12 kills while Salwa totaled 34 assists and three aces. The Seahawks had five players in double figures for digs, led by Chrissy Fraga with 23. Lipinski recorded a match high three solo blocks, and one assisted block.
For the Golden Bears both Lathrop and Skibinski tied for the team lead for kills with 18, Leuck totaled 29 assists and five players registered double figure digs for the Western New England as well, led by libero Emily Woodford's (Belchertown, Mass.) 25.
With the loss the Seahawks fall to 4-10 overall and 0-1 in CCC play. Meanwhile the Golden Bears improve to 6-4 overall and 1-0 in the conference.
Salve Regina continues its conference play on the road against Gordon College on September 26 at 1 p.m. while the Golden Bears host the University of New England in another CCC match up.