WEST POINT – Army West Point volleyball walked away with the 3-2 victory over Sacred Heart on Friday night in Gillis Field House. Paige Fixemer and Diana Ethridge each recorded their first double-double of the season in Army’s five-set battle.
The first set laid out the tone for the match as the teams traded points before Sacred Heart went on a run to take a 12-14 lead over Army. Fixemer and Savannah Bray collected key points for the Cadets as they finished with six and five kills, respectively. Sayler Butters made crucial digs for the Black Knights’ defense, allowing for attacking opportunities. She finished the set with eight digs and two assists. Army fought back to bring the score to 22-22, but errors allowed Sacred Heart to capture the match 26-24.
Sacred Heart jumped ahead early in the second set to lead 11-7 over Army. Kai Nickerson and Bray recorded a block that helped shift the moment for the Cadets. Fixemer followed with a solo block and a kill with the assist from Ethridge to bring the set to 11-11.
The teams traded points until Army went on a 4-0 runs that was ignited by a solo block from Kingsley Wallace to give the Cadets a 20-16 lead. The Black Knights capitalized on by the Pioneers to take the second set 25-22. Bray led the Cadets with five kills while Fixemer recorded four total blocks.
The teams battled from the first serve but Army jumped in front as the team went on a 5-0 run to lead 8-2 over Sacred Heart. Fixemer played a major role in the run contributing two kills and was a. part of two blocks. The Pioneers did not go easy as they fought to tie the set at 14-14. After capitalizing on errors by the Pioneers, Fixemer and Nickerson threw down the final two points to push Army to the 25-23 victory over Sacred Heart.
Army took a 15-11 lead to force the first media timeout. The Pioneers came back swinging to make the score 16-14, Julia Johnson was there to stop them as she recorded a kill to force the Sacred Heart into a timeout. Army reached set point first (24-22), but mistakes allowed the Pioneers to stay in the set. Sacred Heart clenched the fourth set 28-26 to force a fifth set.
Mackenzie Karnig recorded the first kill of the set igniting an 8-0 run for Army. Nickerson added on two more kills to put the Cadets in a 10-2 lead. Errors by Sacred Heart pushed Army to match point. The Cadets won 15-5, the largest margin of the match, to win 3-2 over Sacred Heart.
“First, I would love to give credit to Sacred Heart, they are a good and fought hard, “ said head coach Alma Kovaci Lee.
“They have a strong offense and played gritty defense, so that was a big win to get. I am so incredible proud of this team, we faced adversity this week and had to make some line up changes and everyone that came in tonight did a great job! Paige (Fixemer) and Kai (Nickerson) did a phenomenal job in the middle for us. Diana (Ethridge) continues to stay poised throughout the entire match. This team plays for each other and I love that. Tonight they were given a challenge and they executed.”