Vassar Rallies to Top Hunter In Five

NEW YORK – On Saturday afternoon, the Vassar College women’s volleyball team (7-4) rallied from two sets down to notch a 19-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-18, 15-13 victory over host Hunter (7-2). It was the Brewers’ third straight win and second of the day, as Vassar also defeated Stockton (7-4) by a 26-24, 25-21, 27-25 count at the Hunter Sportsplex.

There were three early ties in the first set of the Hunter match before the Hawks used a 10-2 rally to open up a 12-5 advantage. With Hunter leading 17-10, the Brewers went on an 8-2 run to pull within one, 19-18. However, the Hawks responded with five straight points to increase their cushion to 24-18, and Hunter took the opening frame by a score of 25-19.

After Vassar jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, Hunter rattled off eight of the next 11 points to go up 8-6. The Hawks extended their cushion to 19-13 before the Brewers responded with an 8-1 spurt to take a 21-20 advantage. Hunter scored the next three points, though, and held on for a 25-23 set win.

In the third set, Vassar used a pair of Sara Ehnstrom kills to pull ahead 5-3, and Ehnstrom later added a service ace to make it 9-6. The Brewers eventually extended their cushion to 20-15 on three straight Devan Gallagher kills, but Hunter responded with a 7-2 rally to tie the score at 22-22. A Hunter service error at 23-23 brought Vassar to set point, and Jorden Schreeder followed with an ace to give the Brewers the frame, 25-23.

Behind a .300 (14 kills, two errors, 40 attempts) hitting performance, the Brewers controlled the fourth set from the start, as Vassar used a 7-2 spurt to turn a 2-2 tie into a 9-4 lead. After Hunter pulled within two at 14-12, Lauren Ninkovich ripped a kill to start a 9-4 rally that pushed the Brewers’ cushion back to seven points, 23-16. A Jane McLeod kill finished off the set, 25-18, as Vassar forced a decisive stanza.

Vassar carried that momentum into the final set, building a 5-2 advantage. Hunter came back to take a 6-5 lead, but McLeod slammed a kill to spark a 4-0 rally that put the Brewers in front 9-6. The Hawks used a 4-0 run of their own to turn an 11-8 deficit into a 12-11 lead, leaving Hunter three points from victory. However, a Gallagher ace at 13-13 gave Vassar the first match point before McLeod’s 24th kill of the match capped the come-from-behind victory. The 15-13 fifth-set win completed the Brewers’ first comeback from 2-0 down since Sept. 5, 2014 against Mount St. Vincent.

Leading the way for Vassar was McLeod, who finished with 24 kills on .300 hitting. Ehnstrom smacked a career-high 16 kills, while Gallagher had a double-double with 12 kills and 14 digs. Annie MacMillan, meanwhile, tallied 59 assists and nine digs. Anna Zucchero and Ninkovich each topped the 20-dig mark, with Zucchero notching 29 digs and Ninkovich registering 21 digs. Schreeder added 13 digs for the Brewers, who hit .219 (64-20-201) as a team.

Taylor Haiduk tallied 22 kills and 21 digs for the Hawks. Kylie Hurst posted 13 kills, 16 digs and three blocks, while Miranda Hogan also notched a double-double with 59 assists and 21 digs. She added three blocks. Emily Wasson had 14 kills, and Marlena Budna recorded 11 kills and five blocks for Hunter. Kendra Moore also registered five blocks. Haley Trunkett, meanwhile, returned 27 digs for the Hawks, who outdug the Brewers 104-98. As a team, Hunter hit .215 (67-25-195) in the contest.

Against Stockton, Vassar used an 8-2 first-set run to turn a 4-4 deadlock into a 12-6 lead before the Ospreys battled back to knot the score at 14-14. That was one of 10 ties in the set, as neither side was able to build a lead of more than three points after Vassar’s early run. Stockton earned the first set point opportunity at 24-23, but Gallagher responded with a kill to even the score once more. McLeod followed with back-to-back kills to give the Brewers a 26-24 set win.

The sides traded points early in the second set before the Brewers went on a 7-2 spurt to open up a 15-10 advantage. The lead eventually reached seven points at 21-14, but the Ospreys rallied back to close the deficit to three at 23-20. A Stockton service error brought Vassar to set point, and a McLeod kill ended the frame, 25-21.

It was more of the same in a third set that featured 12 ties and seven lead changes. Stockton jumped ahead 4-1 before the Brewers responded to go up 8-6. The Ospreys then countered with a 7-2 spurt to regain the lead, 13-10. Stockton reached set point at 24-22, but three consecutive Vassar kills—two by McLeod, one by Jennifer Kerbs – gave the Brewers a match point. A McLeod kill set up Vassar’s second match point at 26-25, and Ehnstrom ripped a kill to close out the victory. The Brewers took the third set by a 27-25 count.

McLeod led the Brewers with 18 kills on .395 hitting. Gallagher and MacMillan each had a double-double for Vassar. Gallagher finished with 15 kills and 10 digs, while MacMillan tallied 44 assists and 14 digs. Ninkovich hit .533 in the match, smashing eight kills without an error in 15 attempts. She added 14 digs and two service aces. Schreeder, meanwhile, posted a match-high 22 digs, as Vassar held a 71-67 edge in that category. As a team, the Brewers hit a solid .299 (54-13-137) in the victory.

Allie Desmond had 21 of Stockton’s 47 kills. She only committed two attack errors and hit .500 in the match. Emily Sullivan finished with 25 assists and eight digs, while Fiona Marziello recorded a double-double with 12 assists and 13 digs. Natalie Miller led the Ospreys with 16 digs, and Sophia Marziello added 11 digs. Stockton hit .248 (47-14-133) as a team.

Up next for the Brewers (0-0 Liberty) is the Liberty League opener against Skidmore (8-4, 0-0 Liberty) at 6 p.m. on Friday. It will be Vassar’s first match of the season at Kenyon Hall.

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