STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (17-9, 7-5 GNAC) split a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) tri-match with a victory over Saint Joseph (Conn.) (7-18, 2-9 GNAC) and a setback at the hands of Norwich University (13-9, 7-5 GNAC).
Saint Joseph's def. Saint Joseph (Conn.), 3-0 (25-8, 25-16, 25-23)
The Monks made short work of the Blue Jays in a match that required only 65 minutes to complete. Brooke Dyer '14 (Lebanon, Maine/St. Thomas Aquinas) recorded a match-high eight kills, Kristin Palladino '14 (Exeter, N.H.) notched six kills and 13 digs, Kiah Begley '13 (Berwick, Maine/St. Thomas Aquinas) tallied 21 assists, 10 digs and four service aces, and Jordan Pelczar '12 (Meredith, N.H.) added 16 digs.
The Blue Jays fell victim to a negative (-.009) hitting percentage with more errors (24) than kills (23) in the loss. Amanda Dondero '14 (Mastic, N.Y.) paced the visitors with eight kills and Jessica Patrizi '15 (Beacon Falls,Conn.) chipped in with 11 assists, eight digs and five kills on the afternoon.
Norwich def. Saint Joseph's, 3-2 (24-26, 25-20, 25-21, 22-25, 15-10)
The Monks and Cadets closed out the day's action with a highly-anticipated match with likely GNAC tournament implications for both teams.
St. Joe's opened play with a 7-2 run, but the visitors countered with a 10-2 surge and led by a 12-9 score mid-way through the first set. The Cadets held a 18-13 lead after an attack error by Begley, but the Monks tallied five of the next six points, forcing Norwich Head Coach Amanda Cuiffo to call a timeout.
Following the 60-second break, the hosts tied the game on an attack error by April Byllaardt '12 (Stormville, N.Y.) and gained the lead with a kill from Dyer. From this point it was a one-point set until the final play when Pelczar notched a service ace to lift the Monks to a 26-24 win and a 1-0 lead.
In the second set, a Dyer kill put the hosts ahead by a 12-10 margin, but the visitors managed to secure a 17-13 lead minutes later after posting a 7-1 burst. SJC Head Coach Yami Nolan called a timeout to regroup and the chat seemed to have an effect as the Monks rattled off three straight points, including a pair of Erica Russi '14 (Debary, Fla.) kills, to make it a one-point set. St. Joe's would get no closer to the lead however, as Norwich outscored the hosts 8-4 during the remainder of play to collect a 25-20 win and tie the match at one-apiece.
The Cadets held at least a share of the lead for all but two plays in the third set to secure a 2-1 match lead.
Facing the potential of a four-set loss, the Monks rose to the occasion with their best play of the evening, posting 14 kills against just four attack errors for a solid .238 hitting percentage en route to a 25-22 win. A kill by Holly Bannister '14 (Cumberland, Maine) lifted St. Joe's to an 8-2 cushion and the hosts would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the set to knot the series at two-apiece.
In the early going of the fifth set, the Monks seemed to continue the momentum gained by the victory in the previous set as the hosts raced out to a 4-1 lead. Unfortunately the advantage proved to be short-lived as the Cadets countered with three straight points. The team proceeded to swap leads over the ensuing minutes with the visitors gaining the final advantage of the night on back to back SJC attack errors.
A kill by Norwich junior Gabrielle Miller (Grove City, Ohio) lifted the Cadets to a 10-8 lead. The SJC coaching staff called a timeout after the play and immediately cut the lead to 10-9, but the visitors went on to net a 5-1 run to close out the set and the match.
For the Monks, Russi tallied 11 kills and 17 digs, Sarah Hawkes '13 (Pownal, Maine) added 10 kills, eight digs and six total blocks, Emilee Penman '15 (Uncasville, Conn.) chipped in with 10 kills, and Begley posted 36 assists, 36 digs and three service aces. Dyer posted nine kills and 19 digs and Pelczar contributed 29 digs in the loss.
With her second block of the night Hawkes became the Monks' all-time leader in solo swats. The junior middle blocker, who earlier this season broke the SJC career kills and digs records, now has 125 blocks in nearly three full seasons and has surpassed Hillary Collyer '04, who tallied 122 rejections in three years.
For the Cadets, Ivana Batur '12 (Zadar, Croatia) tallied 19 kills, 19 digs and eight total blocks, Byllaardt added 12 kills and five total blocks, and Miller registered 32 assists, 26 digs and three aces.
Although a difficult loss, the Monks can take some solace in the fact the Saint Joseph's had not won a set versus Norwich in six previous meetings.
Saint Joseph's will host Gordon College in a non-conference match on Wednesday at 7:00 PM.