October 27, 2011

Volleyball Serves Up First Conference Win, Sweeps Assumption 3-0

NORTH ANDOVER, MA – In the first contest played on the newly-named Hammel Court, the Merrimack women's volleyball team claimed its first Northeast-10 Conference victory of the season with a 3-0 decision over Assumption Thursday evening. The Warriors improved to 4-20 overall and 1-11 in the league with the win. The Greyhounds fall to 7-20 on the year and 1-12 in conference matches.

The hosts topped Assumption 25-21, 25-21 and 25-19 to snap a 13-match skid.

Merrimack was led by Stephanie Sheehan (Smithtown, NY) with a match-high12 kills and 12 digs on the night. Shaunda Forcier (Gonic, NH) and Nicole Duarte (Windham, NH) each contributed 10 kills for the Warriors while Jackie Jones (Amherst, NY) recorded 12 digs. Brianna Trabucco dished out a match-high 34 assists for Merrimack.

The Warriors conceded the first two points of the match before tying the score at 4-4. Merrimack took its first lead of the night on a service ace by Trabucco on the ensuing serve.

The home team gradually built up a lead and held a five-point edge at 13-8.

The Greyhounds pulled to within a point at 22-21 before Merrimack tallied three-straight points to end the set. Forcier capped off the first game with one of her two aces in the match.

The Warriors trailed just twice in the second frame and both deficits were a one-point margin. Assumption chipped away at Merrimack's lead in the set and eventually knotted it at 20-20.

After the visitors claimed a 21-20 edge, the Warriors stormed back to score five unanswered points to capture the second set and take a 2-0 lead.

The two sides battled evenly in the third game as neither team could gain a sizable advantage. Merrimack's largest lead of the match was a seven-point gap late in the third set. Kills from Duarte and Forcier gave the Warriors a six-point lead 22-16 before Assumption called a timeout. After the timeout, Merrimack claimed its 23rd point of the game on an attacking error by the Greyhounds.

Assumption made a late run to try to level the third set. Facing match-point at 24-17, the Greyhounds recorded two points to push the score to 24-19. Jenna Reilly (Northport, NY) sealed the victory with her sixth kill of the match.

"The team came together tonight and played with confidence," said head coach TJ Hajjar.  "Jackie and Steph played great defense to give us second opportunities. We capitalized on our chances tonight and minimized our errors."

Merrimack will meet Assumption at Molloy for a non-league tilt October 29. The Warriors will also take on the host Lions as part of the tri-match.