Shepherd Rams’ Volleyball team holds off strong surge from Stonehill

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Lindblad (14), pictured here last season, and the Rams came through with a hard-fought road victory Saturday night against a pesky Stonehill team that would not go away.

Anthony Bracken, Sports Editor

In their first match of the season, the Shepherd Rams’ volleyball team (1-0) defeated Stonehill College (0-1) by a 3-1 match score Saturday evening in a road match in North Easton, Massachusetts.

Sophomore setter Jessica Karcz hurt the Skyhawks with her tremendous ability to set up her teammates well with nicely placed passes that they converted into kills. Karcz finished with 32 assists on the day, as the next closest Ram finished with five.

In the first set, Karcz increased the lead with a kill off of a lob from libero Imani Major, a sophomore, that augmented the Rams’ lead to 16-7.

However, the Skyhawks would go on a 13-6 run to trim the Rams’ lead to 22-20. Their run would be short-lived, as an attacker error by middle blocker Katherine DeLanty and a service error by outside hitter Sophia Poveda closed out the first set, with the Rams’ winning 25-21.

The Skyhawks’ effort was not waisted though, as they built momentum heading into the second set. Outside hitter/right side hitter Marykay Nasby started a 3-0 run that would stretch the Skyhawks’ lead to 21-14 with her kill. A service ace by defensive specialist Claire Manuszak got by freshman libero Milleysha Otero of the Rams, as frustrations were starting to mount.

An attack error by Rams’ sophomore outside hitter Cambriea Hill ended the 3-0 run and effectively put the set out of reach for the Rams.

During the course of the next two sets, the Rams would hang on to win both sets by the slimmest of margins. The Skyhawks would not go away, as the Rams could not gain any separation.

In the third set, the Rams led 23-19, only to see the lead dwindle to 23-22 before the Rams took two of the next three points to close out the set. Poveda provided the first of these two points with an attack error that was blocked by sophomore outside hitters Peyton Lindblad and Seone Goode of the Rams.

Karcz finished out the set with one of her 32 assists, as she set up senior middle hitter Christine Jackson with a kill.

However, the Skyhawks showed time and time again that they would not go down lightly. In the fourth set, the match was all tied up at 22-22 at one point, as tensions were starting to rise as to whether or not the match would continue.

A service error by outside hitter Ashley Hitchcock prevented the Skyhawks from winning the set 25-23, as now the score was tied at 24-24.

Karcz and Lindblad would close out the match with back-to-back assists to Goode and senior outside hitter Amanda Snowden to put an exclamation point on the match.

The Skyhawks had a 53-45 edge in kills and a 49-41 edge in assists, while the Rams held a 9-6 advantage in aces and a 75-72 advantage in digs, as they went to great efforts from keeping the ball from hitting the ground.

Lindblad led the Rams in kills with 12, while the Skyhawks’ setter Jessica Givens led all players with 42 assists.

The Rams won in four sets (25-21, 18-25, 25-23, 26-24), but the score was much closer than the final 3-1 match score would suggest.

The Rams hit the court again Sunday afternoon for tournament action when they continue their trip in New England with two matches against Dominican College and Bloomfield College that begin at 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., respectively.

Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at abrack02@rams.shepherd.edu