|Jaspers Keep Postseason Hopes Alive With Dramatic Comeback|
RIVERDALE, N.Y. - Knowing that a loss would all but eliminate it from contention for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships, the Manhattan College volleyball team fell behind 2-0 against Iona on Sunday afternoon. After rallying to force a fifth set, the Jaspers then faced two match points in the decisive frame. And once again, Manhattan (16-13, 9-7 MAAC) battled back before notching a dramatic 21-25, 12-25, 25-22, 25-11, 17-15 victory over the Gaels (12-13, 9-8 MAAC) at Draddy Gymnasium. The win, coupled with Siena's loss at Canisius, moved Manhattan into a tie for third place in the MAAC standings with one weekend of conference play remaining.
Prior to the match, the Jaspers honored seniors Jackie Aldrich (Westhampton Beach, N.Y.), Brittany DeGagne (Penticton, B.C.) and LaKell Havens (St. George, Utah) in a brief ceremony. Once action got underway, Iona scored the first four points of the match. The Gaels maintained that advantage for the duration of the first set, although Manhattan pulled within one on a Malia McGuinness (Kailua, Hawaii) kill that made it 12-11. However, Iona responded with a 4-2 spurt to push its lead back to four at 17-13. Manhattan again pulled within one, 18-17, after back-to-back service aces by Kelsey Huntoon (Monroe, Mich.), before the Gaels went on a 5-1 run to extend its advantage to 23-18. Iona hit an impressive .344 (12 kills, one error, 32 attempts) in the first set, which it won by a 25-21 count.
Manhattan won the first three points of the second set before Iona pulled back within one at 7-6. After an Alexa Lampasona (Remsenburg, N.Y.) kill put the Jaspers up 8-6, Iona rallied for six of the next seven points to take a 15-9 lead. Manhattan trimmed its deficit to five at 17-12 before the Gaels scored the final eight points of the set claim a 25-12 win.
Trailing 2-0 in the must-win match, the Jaspers began the third set by claiming four of the first five points. Iona rallied to tie the score at 8-8, but a 5-1 Manhattan run, capped by a Havens and Lampasona block, put the Jaspers back in front, 13-9. However, Iona responded again, going on a 10-3 run to take a 19-16 advantage of its own. Manhattan fought back to tie the score at 21-21 on a kill by Mariana Furquim (Curitiba, Brazil). After the sides traded points, a clutch service ace by Julie Bies (Massapequa, N.Y.) gave Manhattan a 23-22 lead. Havens followed with a block to bring Manhattan to set point, which she consolidated with a kill. Manhattan forced a fourth set by taking the third, 25-22.
After an early 3-3 deadlock, the Jaspers dominated the fourth set. Manhattan broke open that 3-3 tie by going on a 14-1 run that made the score 17-4. The Gaels scored four of the next five points to pull within 18-8 before a 6-2 Manhattan spurt brought the Jaspers to set point. Manhattan hit .350 (18-4-40) in the fourth set, and a Furquim kill finished off a 25-11 win that evened the match.
Carrying all the momentum, Manhattan opened up a 10-5 advantage in the fifth set. The Jaspers up 12-9 on a Furquim kill, but Iona rallied for the next five points to gain the first match point opportunity. It looked like the Gaels had won it on the next point, but Alicja Pawelec's shot was ruled just long. Manhattan then tied the score at 14-14 on a block by McGuinness. The Jaspers earned their first match point on a kill by Havens, but she hit one long on the next point. Manhattan got to match point again when McGuinness slammed a kill to make it 16-15. The Jaspers then finished off their comeback when DeGagne, on the final swing of her home career, hit one that went off the Iona block, giving the set to Manhattan, 17-15. It was the Jaspers' third win this season when trailing 2-0. Indicating how close the match actually was, Manhattan tallied 100 total points to Iona's 98.
"It's always hard to get down 0-2 like that," DeGagne said. "That's obviously not the situation you want to get into. But we have this mentality that no one can stop us in the fifth set. We've been amazing in fifth sets this year. We knew it was do-or-die, and we just pushed hard to do what we had to do."
"In the fifth set, we just kind of know that we're going to win," Head Coach Mark Jones said. "We've won several in a row and these kids have all been a part of that, especially this season. In the fifth set, we always do a good job of serving early so that we can get a few points on them right away."
Furquim and McGuinness both had double-doubles for the Jaspers. Furquim finished with a match-high 18 kills and 22 digs, while McGuinness tallied 17 kills and 11 digs. Playing in her final match at Draddy Gymnasium, Havens pounded 15 kills and added five blocks. Lampasona finished with 11 kills to go along with three blocks. Hollegn Henderson (Long Beach, Calif.) handed out a career-high 57 assists and added 10 digs to complete a double-double. Huntoon returned a career-high 25 digs and served three aces, while Bies collected 17 digs. The Jaspers hit .238 (70-25-189) overall and outdug the Gaels 92-85.
Catrina Warren finished with 15 kills and seven blocks to lead Iona. Madisyn Spence added 13 kills, while Pawelec had a double-double with 11 kills and 17 digs. Pawelec and Ellen Carberry each notched three aces. Nicole Tamburri posted a double-double with 45 assists and 13 digs while also tallying five blocks. Theresa Harvey recorded 20 digs and Katie Marabella tallied 10 digs to go along with two aces. Overall, Iona hit .236 (60-17-182) as a team.
Niagara and Fairfield have already clinched places in the MAAC Championships, and the final two spots will be determined next weekend. Five teams remain in contention for the remaining berths. Manhattan is tied for third place with Siena (11-14, 9-7 MAAC), while Iona sits just behind the Jaspers and Saints. Canisius and Marist are both 8-8 in conference play.
Manhattan's fate is in its own hands, as the Jaspers end the season by visiting Marist (11-15, 8-8 MAAC) and Siena. The Jaspers take on the Red Foxes at 2 p.m. on Saturday, followed by a 2 p.m. matchup at Siena on Sunday. Two wins and Manhattan qualifies for the MAAC Championships. Siena and Marist will both also meet Saint Peter's next weekend. Canisius visits Loyola and Rider to conclude the regular season, while Iona's only match next weekend is on Saturday night against Fairfield.
"We knew today was a must-win, so we were playing with pressure already," Jones said. "Being down 2-0, I think it can only help us that we were able to fight back. We've already been in the situation this weekend. We know it's all up to us, and we've just got to take care of business."