Jaspers Rally to Knock Off Niagara In Five Sets
RIVERDALE, NY – Allie Yamashiro (Kapolei, HI) served an ace on match point to seal a five-set victory for the Manhattan College volleyball team on Saturday afternoon. The Jaspers (11-20, 7-10 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) took the first two sets before Niagara (11-18, 9-8 MAAC) rallied to force a decisive frame. However, Manhattan hit .435 (10 kills, no errors, 23 attempts) in the final stanza to earn a 27-25, 25-22, 20-25, 21-25, 15-12 win.
Manhattan opened up a 6-3 lead in the fifth set before Niagara responded with a 6-2 rally to go up 9-8. The Jaspers won the next point to even the score at 9-9, and it would be deadlocked again at 10-10, 11-11 and 12-12. Sandra Lozanova (Pernik, Bulgaria) smacked a kill to break the 12-12 tie, then a kill by Olyvia Chaltas (Temecula, CA) brought Manhattan to match point. After a Niagara timeout, Yamashiro’s ace wrapped up the Jaspers’ 3-2 victory.
“I think for us, it’s important to end on a high note, and obviously the ace at the end was great,” Head Coach Mark Jones said. “Niagara’s a good team. They play good defense. But we definitely stuck with them today (the total points were Niagara 109, Manhattan 108). There were a lot of rallies that could’ve gone either way, but we worked hard and earned the points.”
Three Jaspers recorded double-doubles in the victory, led by Lozanova’s 19-kill, 11-dig effort. Milena Janjusevic (Belgrade, Serbia) finished with 18 kills, 16 digs and six blocks, while Zoe Lindsey (McHenry, IL) had 55 assists and 10 digs. Chaltas contributed 12 kills, and Marissa Behrens (Honolulu, HI) tallied six blocks. Ivana Kostic (Grocka, Serbia), meanwhile, had five blocks to go along with eight kills. Yamashiro collected 17 digs and Alyssa Rehrer (Lorton, VA) notched 15 digs, as Manhattan outdug Niagara 81-74. For the match, the Jaspers hit .219 (62-25-169) as a team.
Niagara started the match by scoring seven of the first eight points, but the Jaspers countered with a 7-2 spurt to pull within one, 9-8. After the Purple Eagles pushed their advantage back to four points at 13-8, Manhattan went on an 11-3 run to go up 19-16. Niagara pulled even at 20-20 before a Kostic kill started a 3-0 Jaspers rally that made it 23-20. Manhattan was the first team to reach set point at 24-23. However, the Purple Eagles claimed the next two points to earn a set point of their own. Kostic and Janjusevic combined for a block to tie the score at 25-25, then a Janjusevic kill gave the Jaspers another set point. This time Manhattan converted, as Janjusevic and Behrens stuffed one down to cap off a 27-25 set win.
There were eight ties and four lead changes in the second set. It was 9-8 Niagara when a Kostic kill sparked an 8-3 rally that put the Jaspers up 16-12. After the Purple Eagles rallied to tie the score at 22-22, a Niagara service error and a Janjusevic ace brought Manhattan to set point. Janjusevic then slammed a kill to end the frame, 25-22, and give the Jaspers a 2-0 cushion in the match.
In the third set, Niagara used a 7-2 spurt to turn a 4-4 tie into an 11-6 lead. Manhattan responded with a 7-1 run, though, and went up 13-12 on a Janjusevic kill. However, the Purple Eagles rallied for 10 of the next 14 points to take a 22-17 advantage. Niagara took the third set by a 25-20 count to extend the contest.
The close play continued in a fourth set that featured nine ties and four lead changes. Manhattan held a 10-9 advantage when Niagara’s Nicole Matheis had three consecutive aces to spark a 5-0 run that gave the Purple Eagles a 14-10 advantage. The Jaspers got back within one when Kostic and Lozanova’s block made it 16-15, but Niagara captured the next three points to push its cushion back to four, 19-15. After Manhattan tied it at 20-20, the Purple Eagles went on a 4-0 run to reach set point, and the Purple Eagles set up a decisive frame by taking the fourth, 25-21.
Matheis recorded a match-high 22 kills to go along with 11 digs for Niagara. Caroline Leich and Madison May added 14 kills apiece, while Alex Stone finished with 11 kills and four blocks. Alexis Gray posted a double-double with 56 assists and 13 digs, and Rylee Hunt corralled 32 digs for the Purple Eagles. As a team, Niagara hit .176 (67-31-204).On Sunday, the Jaspers conclude the season with a 1 p.m. matchup against Canisius (7-19, 5-12 MAAC). Prior to the contest, Manhattan will honor its four seniors—Janjusevic, Kostic, Yamashiro and Kelsey LaCour (Walnut Creek, CA).