by Tyler Roaix
The Central Connecticut State University volleyball team participated in its third and final tournament this weekend when they played in the Hartford Invitational. After a loss Friday night, Central won both of their matches on Saturday to finish with a 2-1 record for the event.
Central opened up the weekend with a tough 3-1 loss Friday night to Niagara University. The Blue Devils dug themselves into a hole throughout the match with 30 errors in total, 10 more than Niagara. Head coach Linda Sagnelli shared after the match how none of their hitters performed well.
“We were our own worst enemy today,” Sagnelli said. “We struggled from start to finish, but we have to let it go and get ready for tomorrow.”
Niagara would add two more wins over the weekend to finish a perfect 3-0 and were awarded as winners of the Hartford Invitational.
Sagnelli’s main message to her team was to fight back on Saturday, and they did just that. Despite 26 errors, Central battled their way to a 3-1 victory. Junior Raquel Quirarte bounced back in a big way with a team-leading 14 kills. Sophomore Madelyn Kaprelyan added 13 kills as well to help fuel the offense.
But the Blue Devils’ strongest match of the weekend came Saturday evening against the host of the event, University of Hartford. Central swept the Hawks in straight sets to pick up their fifth win in their last six matches.
Central was dominant at every facet of the game. They outnumbered Hartford 44-30 in kills, and also had eight fewer errors. They controlled the battle around the net with 11 blocks in the match.
Senior Maddie Smith was a star all weekend for CCSU. With an average kill percentage of .508, Smith led the Central offense throughout the invitational. Freshman Samantha McCreath won both NEC Player and Rookie of the Week awards last week, despite having struggled during the first two matches against Niagara and New Jersey Institute of Technology. Sagnelli took her out early against NJIT after committing 18 errors, but McCreath had a strong match in the win over Hartford, racking up nine kills and a .350 kill percentage.
Smith, along with fellow senior Lindsey Massicotte were both given spots on the All-Tournament team for their efforts this weekend.
During the preseason, Sagnelli highlighted the depth of her team. That was on full display this weekend. Central played 11 of its 15 available players, including five freshmen. The spotlight may be on McCreath with her strong start to the season, but every player on the roster has contributed in one form or another.
With the weekend performance, Central improves their record to 6-3 overall, best in the Northeastern Conference. The Blue Devils are back in action Wednesday, Sept. 13 on the road against Iona. They then wrap up non-conference play Tuesday, Sept. 19 when they travel to Brown University.