by Tyler Roaix
The Central volleyball team played a pair of important matches against Saint Francis University and Robert Morris. CCSU entered the weekend tied for third in the NEC with both the Re Flash and the Colonials.
The Blue Devils opened the weekend with a 3-0 sweep of Saint Francis, in what head coach Linda Sagnelli called her team’s best match of the season so far.
Central dropped the first point of the match, but they quickly won four straight points to take the lead. The Blue Devils never trailed again, as they were in complete control throughout.
With freshman Samantha McCreath out due to injury, the Blue Devils needed the rest of the team to step up. Fortunately for Central, every player on the court was able to produce.
Central led a very balanced attack on offense against the Red Flash. Freshman Emma Henderson, sophomore Morgan Woycik and junior Raquel Quirarte, all had seven kills to lead the Blue Devil attack. Sophomore Madelyn Kaprelyan added six kills, while freshman Eline van Heijningen and senior Maddie Smith each had five kills to round out Central’s offense.
The Blue Devils also managed five service aces on the night, three coming from Henderson. Saint Francis failed to have any aces.
“We are fortunate to have such a deep team. Madelyn (Kaprelyan) and Morgan (Woycik) are such great opp’s (opposites) that we run a 6-2 system so well,” Sagnelli said of her offense. “But Emma (Henderson) was stellar tonight as well. Our setters were phenomenal. We got it from everyone and that is what we are all about.”
The 6-2 system refers to a style of offense common in volleyball. In this type of offense, a team uses six players as attackers and two players as setters.
After the match, Sagnelli said how the team has been working hard on the offensive end in practice. “We keep getting better and better offensively,” Sagnelli said. “And with us being a young team, we have kept reinforcing it and our players are gaining a lot of confidence.”
On the defensive end, CCSU controlled the match around the net, tallying 10 total team blocks. Saint Francis managed six. Blocking has been the highlight of Central’s defense in 2017. They lead the NEC by a wide margin with 189. Bryant is second with 173.5.
Central closed out the weekend with a 3-1 victory over the Robert Morris Colonials to secure it’s fourth consecutive win, and five of the last six matches.
The Blue Devils jumped out to a quick 2-0 set lead and looked like they would cruise to another sweep. But Robert Morris dominated Central in the third with an easy 25-15 set win.
“I don’t know what the heck happened in that third set,” Sagnelli said. “It just seemed like we assumed we would win and were waiting for points to happen.”
But CCSU got back to business in the fourth set. Despite a late push from the Colonials, Central would hold their ground, winning 25-21 to clinch the match.
Quirarte led the CCSU offense with 14 kills. Henderson and Kaprelyan posted 13 kills and 10 kills, respectively. The Blue Devils also set a new season-high with a .304 kill percentage.
McCreath was sidelined for the second straight match with an ankle injury. The freshman in unsure exactly when the injury occurred, but it has been bothering her for the past couple of weeks. Sagnelli decided to sit her out for the weekend as a precautionary measure.
CCSU moves to 12-6 overall and 5-2 in NEC play, with the weekend sweep. They are tied with LIU Brooklyn for second-place in the conference.
Central plays just one match this weekend, but it will be their toughest of the season. They host top-ranked Bryant on Friday, Oct. 20 at 7:00 p.m. Bryant is out to its best NEC-start in school history, currently at 6-1, according the the Bulldogs website.
“We were off our game the last time we were up there,” Sagnelli said of the Blue Devils’ 3-1 loss to Bryant on Sept. 29. “We are hitting our stride at a great time, so we are really looking forward to playing them again.”