The Central Connecticut volleyball team split a pair of five-set matches on the first day of the Big Green Invitational on Friday in Hanover, NH. Central erased a two-set deficit to defeat Niagara, 3-2, in the first match of the day, before falling to the hosts, Dartmouth, in another five-set thriller on Friday night.
Central is 5-3 on the season.
Match 1: CCSU 3, Niagara 2
The Blue Devils rallied from a two-set deficit to win their opening match of the day, 3-2, over Niagara.
The Purple Eagles took the first set, 27-25, in a back-and-forth opening frame. Niagara led, 15-10, but a kill by senior Cassidy Stankowski helped spur a CCSU rally that would tie the set at 17-all on an ace by senior Rachel Fish and then take the lead on a kill by sophomore Raquel Quirarte. The teams traded leads from there, but Central would hold serve for the set at 25-24, but Niagara would respond with three straight points to take the set.
Niagara broke a 9-9 tie in the second set with a 13-2 spurt to build a 22-11 lead and eventually win the set 25-12 before CCSU started its comeback in the match.
Quirarte would serve as the Blue Devils raced out to an 8-0 lead in the third set. Central would lead throughout, but after Niagara closed within three at 22-19, freshman Madelyn Kaprelyan recorded a kill and classmate Morgan Woycik would close the set out at 25-20 with a kill of her own.
The Blue Devils scored the first three points of the fourth set and built the lead to 17-7 following an ace by Fish. The Purple Eagles would get no closer than five points and a kill by Kaprelyan to make it 25-19 would send the match to a fifth set.
In the fifth set, CCSU would score the first seven points, highlighted by a pair of kills by Woycik and a Quirarte ace. Niagara would rally to get within, 9-6, but they could get no closer and the Blue Devils scored the final three points, including a kill by Woycik to win the set, 15-9.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Kushman posted a double-double for Central with 26 assists and 15 digs. Woycik had a team-high 14 kills, while Fish had two service aces and a team-high 18 digs.
Match 2: Dartmouth 3, CCSU 2
The Blue Devils played their second five-set thriller of the day, but fell to Dartmouth, 3-2, in the night's final match. The teams alternated winning sets in the match with the hosts prevailing in the deciding fifth set for the win.
Dartmouth took the first set, 25-17, after scoring the first four points and leading throughout. CCSU closed within 9-6, but the Big Green would use a 7-1 run to build a 16-7 lead following an ace. Dartmouth would hold a healthy margin from there and close out the set.
The Blue Devils came back in the second set and evened the match. Dartmouth would use a streak of four straight points to lead 10-6 before storming back to take a 13-12 lead. Quirarte would serve four straight points in the streak, including an ace to tie the set at 12. The set would be tied at 13 before CCSU took the lead for good on a Woycik kill. A kill by Kaprelyan would close out the set for Central at 25-20.
The Big Green raced out to a 6-1 lead in the third set enroute to a 25-17 win in the set. The Blue Devils could not trim the margin to fewer than four points.
Central rebounded to take the fourth set, 25-22, and tie the match. The set was close throughout, but Dartmouth edged ahead, 20-17. CCSU responded with a kill from Quirarte to open a run of six straight points. Back-to-back kills from Quirarte and Kaprelyan in the middle of the run put Central ahead for good, 21-20, and it would go on to close the set out.
The Blue Devils opened the scoring in the fifth set on a kill by Stankowski, but the Big Green came back to build a 5-2 lead. Dartmouth would lead the rest of the way and scored the final two points of the set to win 15-9 and take the match.
Kaprelyan led the three Blue Devils in double-figures with 16 kills. Stankowski posted a double-double with 10 kills and 13 digs, while Quirarte added 10 kills and 10 digs. Freshman Erin McDermott posted a double-double with 22 assists and 16 digs and Kushman collected her second double-double of the day with 14 assists and 12 digs.
Fish finished with 11 digs, five assists and two aces. She has 1,069 career digs, which ranks eighth all-time at CCSU.
The Blue Devils close out play at the tournament against Army at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday.