Jaspers Push Niagara to Limit In 3-2 Loss
JERSEY CITY, N.J. - On Sunday afternoon, the Manhattan College volleyball team came as close to snapping Niagara's 32-match winning streak against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) opponents as anyone has during the run. The Jaspers (14-11, 7-5 MAAC) came back from 2-1 down to force a fifth set, then had two match points in the final frame before the first-place Purple Eagles (20-7, 14-0 MAAC) rallied for a 16-25, 25-14, 25-21, 22-25, 23-21 victory at the Yanitelli Center on the campus of Saint Peter's College.
Manhattan controlled the first set, winning the first four points of the match and never relinquishing that lead. The Jaspers extended their advantage to 7-2 on a service ace by Mariana Furquim (Curitiba, Brazil) before a 6-2 Niagara rally brought the Purple Eagles back within one, 9-8. Following a Manhattan timeout, Malia McGuinness (Kailua, Hawaii) slammed a kill, then served an ace to start a 5-2 rally that made the score 14-10. With the Jaspers leading 21-16, Alexa Lampasona (Remsenburg, N.Y.) put away a kill to ignite a 4-0 spurt that ended the set. Manhattan committed just two errors in the set, hitting .389 (16 kills, 36 attempts), winning by a 25-16 count.
Just as the Jaspers dominated the first set, the Purple Eagles grabbed control of the second set early on. Niagara jumped out to a 10-2 lead before a Hollegn Henderson (Long Beach, Calif.) kill started a 4-0 Manhattan rally that cut the Jaspers' deficit in half. The Purple Eagles responded by winning four of the next five points to push their advantage back to seven before Manhattan took the next three to make it 14-10. However, Niagara countered with an 8-2 spurt to extend its cushion to 22-13. The Purple Eagles evened the match by taking the second set, 25-14.
Back-to-back aces by Julie Bies (Massapequa, N.Y.) highlighted a 4-1 Manhattan rally to start the third set, and the Jaspers pushed their lead to 10-5 on a block by Furquim and Brittany DeGagne (Penticton, B.C.). However, Niagara responded with a 9-4 rally to tie it at 14-14. The score would be tied four more times before the Purple Eagles used a 5-1 spurt to turn an 18-18 deadlock into a 23-19 advantage. Niagara won the third set, 25-21, to go ahead 2-1 in the match.
The fourth set was back-and-forth throughout, as there were 11 ties and seven lead changes in the frame. After the Jaspers took a 10-9 advantage, Niagara scored three straight points to go up 12-10. Manhattan responded with four of the next five points to regain the lead, 14-13, before a 3-1 Niagara run gave the edge back to the Purple Eagles, 16-15. LaKell Havens (St. George, Utah) then slammed a kill to tie it at 16-16 and spark a 5-0 Manhattan run that gave the Jaspers a 20-16 cushion. The Jaspers got to set point on a Furquim kill that made it 24-21, and Havens found a hole in the Niagara defense to put away a kill and a 25-22 win that sent the match into a decisive set. Manhattan made just one attack error (compared to 15 kills) in 36 attempts in the fourth set, hitting .389.
Following the tone of the match, the final frame featured 12 ties and six lead changes. Niagara went in front early, 5-1, but the Jaspers rallied back within one on a DeGagne and Furquim block that made it 9-8. A Havens kill tied the score at 10-10, then Manhattan took its first lead of the set, 11-10, on a McGuinness kill that followed Henderson making a beautiful save on an errant pass. Niagara scored the next three points to regain the lead, 13-11. However, Manhattan won the next three points, tying it on a Bies ace and reaching match point on a block by Havens and Henderson. Niagara fought off that opportunity, then earned its first match point at 15-14.
Manhattan faced match point again at 16-15 and 17-16, staying alive each time. The Jaspers earned their second match point when DeGagne and Lampasona teamed up for a block that made it 18-17, but Niagara responded with the next two points to get to another match point on its side. McGuinness pounded a kill off another long rally to keep the Jaspers alive before three straight service errors (two by Manhattan, one by Niagara) set the Purple Eagles up with another match point opportunity. Havens slammed another kill to even the score at 21-21 before Niagara won the next point to earn its seventh match point chance. This time the Purple Eagles converted, ending the match on a block by Amanda Wilken and Ellen Senf. Niagara's 23-21 win marked the deepest into the fifth set Manhattan has played this season.
In terms of total points, Niagara won the match 111-106. It was Manhattan's first five-set loss of the year and snapped the Jaspers' 11-match winning streak in five-setters.
McGuinness led four Jaspers in double figures with 17 kills. She added 11 digs to complete a double-double. Havens notched 16 kills, while Lampasona tallied 12 kills. Furquim had a double-double with 12 kills and 18 digs. Henderson also registered a double-double with 54 assists and nine digs. DeGagne posted five blocks for the Jaspers. Kelsey Huntoon (Monroe, Mich.) recorded a team-high 20 digs, and Bies contributed 19 digs to go along with three aces. Overall, Manhattan hit .253 (64-17-186) as a team.
Hannah Hedrick had 26 kills and 20 digs to lead Niagara. Kari Honomichl added 14 kills, 13 digs and three aces, while Nicole Bayer also notched a double-double with 65 assists and 13 digs. Senf tallied 17 kills on .457 hitting to go along with five blocks, while Wilken contributed to six blocks. Lisa Bilich registered three of Niagara's 10 aces. Sam Morgan notched a match-high 28 digs and Taylor Scully posted 13 digs, as the Purple Eagles outdug the Jaspers 93-92. Niagara posted a team hitting percentage of .238 (74-25-206) in the match.
The match was moved to Saint Peter's because of a power failure at Riverdale Country School that resulted in the Jaspers' match against Canisius on Saturday being suspended after one set. It was also the start of a busy day for the Jaspers, who will play the conclusion of that match on Sunday evening shortly after Canisius takes on Saint Peter's.