|Manhattan Rallies Back From 2-0 Down to Beat Rider|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Manhattan College volleyball team wasn't ready to see its season come to an end just yet. After dropping the first two sets, the fourth-seeded Lady Jaspers (19-14) battled back to force a fifth, then took the decisive frame to post a dramatic 25-27, 23-25, 25-16, 25-13, 15-11 victory over 10th-seeded Rider (5-27) in the consolation round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships at HP Pavilion at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Friday afternoon. It was Manhattan's fifth consecutive win when the match went the distance.
The Broncs, who knocked off Saint Peter's little more than an hour before they played the Lady Jaspers, jumped out to an early 7-3 lead in the first set. After a Manhattan timeout, the Lady Jaspers rallied for five of the next seven points, pulling within one when Diane Strutner's (San Jose, Calif.) kill made it 9-8. The teams traded points until LaKell Havens (St. George, Utah) recorded a service ace to tie it at 16-16, then pounded a kill to put Manhattan up 17-16. Rider won the next three points to go in front 19-17, but a kill by Jaci Rahey (West Milford, N.J.) capped a 3-1 Manhattan rally that tied it at 20-20. The score would be deadlocked again at 22-22, 23-23, 24-24 and 25-25 before Rider put two points together to take the set, 27-25.
Rider carried its momentum into the second set, racing out to a 7-2 advantage. Manhattan climbed back within two at 10-8, but the Broncs responded with a 7-3 run to push their lead to six points, 17-11. The Lady Jaspers slowly chipped away and knotted the score at 22-22 on a Havens kill. Rider won the next two points to reach set point, and the Broncs finished off the set, 25-23, to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
On the brink of elimination, the Lady Jaspers stormed out of the gate in the third set. Manhattan opened up an early 5-1 advantage before Rider rallied back within two at 6-4. However, the Lady Jaspers scored 10 of the next 14 points, extending their advantage to 16-8 on a Strutner ace. Rider got back within six at 17-11, but the Lady Jaspers reached set point when a Jamie Collareta (Islip Terrace, N.Y.) ace made it 24-14, and Manhattan took the set by a 25-16 count to extend the match.
After a back-and-forth start, Manhattan seized control of the fourth set with a 9-2 run that turned a 3-3 deadlock into a 12-5 Lady Jaspers lead. The Lady Jaspers extended their advantage to 18-8 before the Broncs scored three of the next four points to make it 19-11. Manhattan responded with a 5-2 rally to reach set point, and Maddie Heck (Corte Madera, Calif.) pounded a kill to seal a 25-13 win that evened the match at two sets apiece. Manhattan hit an impressive .382 in the fourth set, slamming 16 kills and committing just three errors in 34 attempts.
For much of the season, the Lady Jaspers saved some of their best volleyball for the fifth set. And the experience of going the distance eight times this season proved crucial on Friday, as Alexa Lampasona (Remensburg, N.Y.) slammed back-to-back kills to begin the final frame. Rider rallied back to tie it at 4-4 before Manhattan regained its two-point lead, 6-4. After the Broncs opened up a 9-8 advantage, the Lady Jaspers responded with a 4-0 run, pulling ahead 12-9 on a Heck kill that prompted a Rider timeout. The Broncs trimmed Manhattan's lead to 13-11, but gave the Lady Jaspers a match point on a service error. One match point was all Manhattan needed, as the Lady Jaspers capped their comeback by taking the final set 15-11. Manhattan made just two attack errors and hit .280 (nine kills, 25 attempts) in the final frame.
It was Manhattan's first victory when losing the first two sets since the Lady Jaspers came back to defeat Rutgers on Oct. 17, 2003. The win, the Lady Jaspers' first in the MAAC Tournament since they beat Marist 3-0 on Nov. 16, 2006, improved Manhattan to 6-2 in five-set matches this season.
Rahey tied a career-high with 22 kills and hit .333 to lead the Lady Jaspers. Strutner posted a double-double with 16 kills and 18 digs, moving her within three kills of becoming just fourth player in program history to notch 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. Heck added seven kills and hit .700, not committing an error in 10 attempts, while Havens notched nine kills and four blocks. Collareta recorded a double-double with 50 assists and 16 digs. Julie Bies (Massapequa, N.Y.) tallied a match-high 22 digs and Aurore Kullak (Beloeil, Belgium) registered 12 digs, as the Lady Jaspers outdug the Broncs 83-66. Overall, Manhattan hit .215 (62-25-172) as a team.
Alex Chapla led Rider with 12 kills on .312 hitting. She also registered five blocks. Stephanie Nagy added 11 kills and five blocks, while Kristy Love notched 10 kills and five blocks. Amanda Piccolini recorded a double-double with 44 assists and 10 digs to go along with three aces. Elyse Grassmuck tallied a team-high 19 digs, and Haley Wilson posted 10 digs for the Broncs. As a team, Rider hit .128 (51-29-172) in the match.
Manhattan wraps up its 2010 season in Saturday's fifth-place match. The Lady Jaspers will take on Marist (14-18) at 11 a.m. Manhattan and Marist split the season series, with each side winning on the road in four sets.