SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (September 24, 2019) – The Western New England University volleyball team saw its comeback fall just short in a 3-2 (25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 24-26, 15-10) setback to the University of New England on Tuesday night in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) opener for both teams at the Alumni Healthful Living Center.
The Golden Bears were led by senior middle blocker Cassandra Holmes (Ellington, Conn.) and senior outside hitter Ashley Matthews (Salem, N.H.). Holmes hit .367 with a team-high 16 kills and five block assists, while Matthews registered a double-double with 13 kills, 24 digs and two aces.
For the visitors, senior outside hitter Katie Flynn (Merrimack, N.H.) produced a match-best 21 kills to go with 15 digs. Sophomore Stephanie Erickson (Cumberland, R.I.) tallied 11 kills, while senior Paige Simoneau (Hudson, N.H.) finished with ten kills and 16 digs.
Western New England, which trailed by as much as eight (17-9) in the opening set, was able to come all the way back and close the gap to one (22-21) on a Simoneau attack error, but the Nor'easters held on down the stretch to take a 1-0 lead.
The second set was also tightly contested, but this time the Golden Bears made big plays late as Matthews snapped a 23-23 tie with a kill before junior Danielle Conlon (Foxborough, Mass.) ended the frame in Western New England's favor with another kill.
Another 23-23 tie in the third frame went UNE's way with the help of two kills from Flynn, but the Golden Bears were able to stay alive with a thrilling 26-24 triumph in set four.
The Nor'easters cruised to an 8-1 lead in the decisive fifth frame, but the Golden Bears came roaring back once the teams switched sides. Western New England utilized a 7-0 run to even the score, and the set was tied for a final time (9-9) following a kill by Holmes. A kill by Flynn sparked a 4-0 run, however, as UNE took a 13-9 lead en route to a 15-10 win to seal the match.
• Western New England senior setter Caitlyn Sibiskie (Rockfall, Conn.) reached the 40-assist mark for the fourth time in her career, and first since 10/4/17.
• Junior outside hitter Hailey McDonnell (Methuen, Mass.) compiled a career-high 29 digs.
Western New England (6-9, 0-1 CCC) plays Suffolk and Norwich in a tri-match hosted by Suffolk on Saturday. UNE (10-1, 1-0 CCC) returns home to host Gordon on Saturday.