By Sean Begin
The Central Connecticut volleyball team extended their Northeast Conference win streak to eight games on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Bryant University.
The win was the second by Central (17-7, 8-2 NEC) over Bryant (8-21, 3-7 NEC) this season and extended the Blue Devils unbeaten record at Detrick Gym.
“The team chemistry has grown so much after a bad weekend when we opened up [NEC play] in the New York City schools and started 0-2,” said Coach Linda Sagnelli. “We did a lot of reflecting and changed a bunch of things and it’s worked ever since.”
The two losses that weekend are the only losses for Central in the last 17 games but Sagnelli says those losses “did more good for this team than anything else.”
The Blue Devils were led by sophomore Heather Trueman, who recorded a career high 20 kills with just two errors hitting .429 for the match.
“She had an outstanding performance. Today is why we had her working on hitting the line [in practice],” said Sagnelli. “She’s becoming a more complete outside hitter as these weeks go by. It’s going to happen where one day Heather becomes one of the best outside hitters in the conference.”
The Blue Devils won the final two sets of the match by scores of 25-9 and 25-17. Central outscored Bryant 16-8 in the final set to win after the Bulldogs had come back to tie the match at nine.
The Blue Devils opened the third set with eight straight points after dropping the second match 25-21. Central was down by as many as seven points in the second set and managed to pull to within one of tying the Bulldogs.
“We sat back. I think we lost mental focus, mental toughness,” said Sagnelli. “Everything that we talk about and try and maintain, we lost it.”
“In between [sets], I said here’s a great opportunity for you to regain that [focus] now because we’re going to be in tough situations as we go forward,” added Sagnelli of her team’s third set turnaround.
The Blue Devils had easily taken the first set 25-10 before going down to Bryant 12-5 to start the second set.
Central was led defensively by freshmen Cassidy Stankowski and Rachel Fish who recorded 15 and 10 digs, respectively. Junior Rachel Dunlap led the team with six block assists. Sophomore Makenna Lommori finished with a team-high 40 assists.
The Blue Devils will hit the road this weekend for two games against. They play at Sacred Heart on Saturday, Nov. 9 and at Farleigh Dickinson Sunday, Nov. 10.
“We have to prepare a lot going into Sacred Heart and FDU. Sacred Heart is very tough to play in their gym,” said Sagnelli. “We’ll be watching a lot of film this week on Sacred Heart and FDU.”
Central wraps up the regular season the following weekend at home against Saint Francis-Brooklyn and LIU-Brooklyn, the only two conference teams to beat them this season.