By Michevi Dufflart & Stephen Zubrycky, Staff Writer & Editor-in-Chief
Jaspers’ women’s volleyball started their two-week, four-match homestand last weekend, coming home for two matches in Draddy against MAAC rivals Niagara and Canisius.
The Jaspers entered the weekend looking for their first win after 17 straight losses in overall play. Saturday’s match against Niagara was their first match in Draddy since Sept. 17, and since then they had taken road losses at St. Francis Brooklyn, Iona, Marist and Siena.
Saturday’s match began at noon against Niagara University.
Second place Niagara, fresh off a 3-2 defeat against MAAC rival Fairfield, entered 9-6 overall and 5-1 in MAAC play.
The Jaspers hung tough with the Purple Eagles in the start of the first set, drawing first blood with the first kill of the match.
The Jaspers were tied 9-9 with Niagara when the Purple Eagles began to open a meaningful lead. Niagara then went on a 6-3 run, prompting a timeout call from Jaspers Head Coach Lora Sarich.
Niagara came back out and topped the Jaspers 10-8 to take the first set 25-20.
The Purple Eagles made quicker work of Manhattan in the second set, winning three consecutive points off serves from senior outside hitter Nicole Matheis (12).
Niagara took the set 25-16.
The Purple Eagles came out of the gate hot in the third set, jumping to an early and commanding lead of 10-2.
In the second half of the set, the Jaspers put together something of a comeback, drawing to 23-19 late in the third set off kills from freshman middle blocker Meagan Miller and sophomore middle blocker Kenza Hall.
In the end, the Purple Knights finished off the Jaspers in three sets, taking the third set 25-20.
Senior outside hitter Mary Donnelly was a bright spot for the Jaspers, leading the team with 10 kills. Junior outside hitter Sandra Lozanova led the Jaspers in digs with eight, and junior setter Zoe Lindsey had the most assists at 20.
Sunday’s match against Canisius was closer, but the Jaspers still ended up falling short. The Jaspers started Jade Jeffrey, Mary Donnelly, Zoe Lindsey, Kenya Hall and Erin Hoener.
Canisius entered the match in seventh place in the MAAC, 5-12 overall and 3-4 in conference play.
The Jaspers started strong in the first set with a block and a kill. However, Canisius fired back. Several kills from freshman middle hitter Claire Leonard gave Canisius a comfortable lead. The Golden Griffins took the first set over the Jaspers, 25-21.
The Jaspers were off to another fast start in the second set, taking a 2-0 lead off a kill from Erin Hoener. The Golden Griffins fought back, however, and took the second set 25-21. Canisius appeared comfortable and confident as the team left the court for the break.
For the third set, the Jaspers subbed out libero Samantha Wagner for Alyssa Rehrer. The Jaspers hung close throughout this set, tying Canisius 12-12 through the first half.
Kills and aces from Donnelly, Jeffrey, Hoener and Miller brought the Jaspers into the lead late in the set, 18-15.
But then Canisius roared back, going on a 5-2 run and bringing the set back to a tie at 20. An ace from Lozanova brought the Jaspers into three point lead, 23-20.
Tied at 25, the teams went into extra time.
Both teams shot back and forth, neither claiming the set until the Jaspers got a two point lead, 33-31.
In the fourth set, both teams traded the serve to start. The Jaspers led 3-2.
Through the first half, the teams remained close – with neither gaining an edge of more than two points until the Jaspers jumped ahead 17-14. The Jaspers would expand that lead to four, taking a 20-16 edge.
Canisius then went on a 4-0 run to tie the set at 20. The lead then went back and forth for some time, and the Jaspers lost the set 25-23, dropping the match three sets to one.
Jade Jeffrey led the Jaspers in kills with 12; Alyssa Rehrer had the most digs at 24; and Kenza Hall had the most blocks at five.
Manhattan will be playing in Draddy again this weekend against St. Peter’s and Rider.
The Jaspers fell to 0-19 overall, 0-7 in conference play and last in the MAAC overall.