Comeback Falls Short as Volleyball Falls 3-2 to New Haven in NE-10 Championship

Links: Box Score 

WEST HAVEN, Conn.  – The Merrimack College women's volleyball team ended its memorable 2013 campaign against the top seed University of New Haven Chargers in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship, losing 3-2 Saturday night.

The Warriors managed to tie the Chargers, 2-2 with a big fourth-set victory, but Merrimack couldn't stop New Haven from taking the final set and match.

Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, few thought the Warriors would reach the title match after being picked 12th in the NE-10 Preseason Poll. But Merrimack came within one set of its first-ever Northeast-10 Tournament Championship with a lineup that featured just one senior.

The Basics
Score:
New Haven 3 | Merrimack 2
Records: Merrimack (17-15)
| New Haven (26-4)
Location:
Charger Gymnasium | West Haven, Conn. 

How It Happened

After a thrilling 3-1 victory in Friday night's semifinals against sixth-seeded Stonehill, Merrimack tied the Chargers at one heading into the third frame, but New Haven took the third set from the Navy and Gold. Merrimack rallied back and controlled the majority of the fourth set, sending the game into the fifth set.

In the opening set, Merrimack and New Haven battled and tied the game at 2-all, until New Haven went on a 3-0 run to bring the score to 5-2. The Warrior rallied back and tied the game at 7-7 but New Haven answered right back with another 3-0 run (10-8). The Navy and Gold managed to cut its lead to one (19-18) but New Haven finished strong and took the first frame, 25-20. Junior Corrine Gosselin (Lawrence, Mass.) and Stephanie Sheehan (Smithtown, N.Y.) posted a team-high three kills in the loss.

With New Haven holding a 1-0 lead heading into the second set, Merrimack took an early 6-4 lead after being tied at 3-all. New Haven managed to rally back and cut the lead in three (16-13) after a kill from Ashley Dalton. The Navy and Gold answered back with a 2-0 run and ended the second set on a 9-6 run to bring the score to 25-19.

With both teams tied at 1-1 heading into the third set, New Haven managed to take control early in frame taking a 4-2 lead over Merrimack. New Haven slowly started to pull away with the lead but the Navy and Gold held together and cut the lead to one (7-6) after a kill from senior Jackie Jones (Amherst, N.H.).  Even with Merrimack cutting the lead to one (13-12), Merrimack was unable to stop the Chargers from taking the third set, 25-22.

Down 2-1 heading into the fourth, Merrimack came out firing, opening up a 6-0 run. The Navy and Gold continued to dominate in kills and took a 12-5 lead over the Chargers early in the set. New Haven managed to bring the score to within three (16-13) by a kill from Jones, which sparked a fire in the Warriors' offense to gain a 24-19 lead. New Haven rallied back on a 6-0 run to tie the game at 25. Even with New Haven threatening, the Warriors fought back and downed the Chargers 28-26, sending it to a fifth and decisive set.

New Haven opened the fifth on a 4-1 run and maintained a strong lead throughout the frame. Merrimack managed to cut the lead to three (11-9), but a kill from New Haven started a run and took the final match from the Warriors 15-10.

Three Warriors led the offense. Sheehan posted her 14th double-double of the season, 16 kills and 14 digs, while rookie Tara Stuhr (Huntington Beach, Calif.) posted her sixth double-double, 48 assists and 13 digs. Fellow classmate Jennifer Cain (Melrose, Mass.) also posted her fifth double-double of the season with 11 kills and 14 digs. Sophomore Madison Burke (San Jose, Calif.) tallied a team-high 16 digs.

A Closer Look

  • The Warriors finished the match with 60 kills, 53 assists, and 69 digs, with Jones posting 15 kills.
  • Junior Aliya Winker (Arlington, VA) and Gosselin contributed to the Warriors' offense with eight and nine kills, respectively.
  • Kristen Lee and Amber Cannady led the Chargers offense with a combined 34 kills.
  • The Navy and Gold finished the set with a .308 hitting percentage, as well as a .907 serving percentage.

Notable Notes

  • Amber Cannady (New Haven), Kristen Lee (New Haven), Jackie Jones (Merrimack), Katie Bryson (Adelphi), and Sydney Maxey (Stonehill) were named to the NE-10 All-Conference Championship Team.

Championship Schedule

Tuesday, November 19
Quarterfinals –
Match 1: #8 American International 0 | #1 New Haven 3 – FINAL
Match 2: #5 Franklin Pierce 1 | #4 Adelphi 3 – FINAL
Match 3: #7 Merrimack 3 | #2 Saint Rose 2 – FINAL
Match 4: #6 Stonehill 3 | #3 Bentley 2– FINAL 

Friday, November 22
Semifinals –
Match 5: #1 New Haven 3 | #4 Adelphi 1 – FINAL
Match 6: #7 Merrimack 3| #6 Stonehill 1– FINAL

Saturday, November 23
Championship Finals –
Match 7: #1 New Haven 3 | #7 Merrimack 2 – FINAL 

Up Next
The Warriors will await their postseason fate by means of the NCAA Selection Show on Monday evening to see whether or not they will earn a spot in the 48-team NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Tournament field. The program can be seen online at www.ncaa.com on Monday night.

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