Volleyball Shocked by UNH Comeback, 3-2, in Season Opener

DURHAM, N.H. – The Brown volleyball team could not slow a rallying University of New Hampshire squad that captured three straight sets to turn a 2-0 Bears lead into a 3-2 victory for the Wildcats in the Brown's opening match of the Holly Young Invitational at Lundholm Gymnasium on Friday. The Bears took the first two sets by scores of 25-19, but UNH would not be bested in its own gym as the hosts won the next three sets 25-22, 25-19 and 15-8. Brown drops to 0-1 on the season while the Wildcats improve to 3-2 overall.

 

The Bears received double-digit kill performances from three players as senior Alexandra Rieckhoff (Laguna Beach, Calif.) led all attackers with 18 kills. Junior Maddie Lord (La Jolla, Calif.) posted 15 kills and senior Thea Derrough (La Jolla, Calif.) went for 11 kills. Freshman setter Sarah Lucenti (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) handed out 23 assists in her collegiate debut, while junior Kathryn Conner (Newport Beach, Calif.) recorded 20 digs to lead a pack of four Brown players in double figures.

 

For the Wildcats, Morgan Thatcher paced the team with 18 kills and Taylor Dunklau contributed 37 assists. Madison Lightfoot finished with 24 digs and Destiny Tolliver made her presence known at the net with seven block assists for the hosts, who hit at a .217 clip to Brown's .171 mark.

 

The Bears rushed out to a 7-3 lead in set one on a Derrough kill and stretched the advantage to five on a kill by junior Brittany Link (Hinckley, Ohio) to make it 9-4. UNH battled back to within three points but Brown regained momentum and led by as many as seven points (20-13) before Rieckhoff capped the 25-19 win with an ace.

 

Brown came out strong in the second set as well, rushing to a seven-point lead early on thanks in part to five kills by Lord over the first 11 points. A pair of attack errors by the Bears let UNH whittle the deficit to three, but Brown used back-to-back Lord aces to take a 20-15 lead. Rieckhoff smashed three more kills to bring it to set point and Link finished it off with a kill for another 25-19 victory.

 

UNH seized control from the opening serve in set three and never trailed en route to a 25-22 win. The Wildcats opened up a six point advantage on a pair of serving errors that made it 11-5, then went on the offensive with kills from Cassidy Croci and Thatcher to take a 15-8 lead. The visitors refused to go quietly, however, and the Bears took seven of the next nine points to trim the Wildcat lead to two (17-15). Brown inched even closer as consecutive attacking errors shrunk UNH's advantage to a single point (21-20), but Tori Forrest erupted for three straight kills to force set point. Derrough attempted to keep the set alive with a kill that brought Brown within two, but an attack error handed the Wildcats their first win of the match.

 

Set four began in Brown's favor, but a 3-1 lead dwindled into a 14-8 deficit as the Wildcats took 13 of the next 17 points. The Bears seemed only able to gain ground when the hosts committed errors, three of which enabled Brown to crawl within three twice (18-15 and 20-17), but UNH ran away with five on the final seven points to tie the match at 2-2.

 

Brown led early in the abbreviated final set as Derrough delivered two kills to make it 3-2, but the Wildcats rattled off eight straight points to take a 10-3 and never looked back. Rieckhoff battled to keep her team afloat with two kills to push Brown within a pair (10-8), but UNH utilized two kills and three errors to take the final five points and seal the fifth set by a score of 15-8.

 

The Bears will have two opportunities to secure the first win of 2013 tomorrow when Brown takes on Missouri State at 10 a.m. and St. John's at 4:30 p.m. Video of both matches will be streamed live at AmericaEast.TV