SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Western New England University volleyball team saw its comeback effort fall short as the Golden Bears were defeated by Roger Williams University 3-1 (25-13, 25-19, 22-25, 26-24) on Saturday afternoon in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) action at the Alumni Healthful Living Center.
Prior to the start of the match, Western New England honored its five seniors – Kierah Parker (Middletown, Conn.), Ashley Matthews (Salem, N.H.), Caitlyn Sibiskie (Rockfall, Conn.), Maria Duffy (Meriden, Conn.) and Cassandra Holmes (Ellington, Conn.).
Matthews and Holmes led the way for the Golden Bears offensively, totaling 11 and ten kills, respectively. Matthews also recorded 12 digs while Holmes tallied two digs, two aces and five total blocks.
Sibiskie posted a double-double with 33 assists, 14 digs, three block assists and two aces, while junior outside hitter Hailey McDonnell (Methuen, Mass.) produced nine kills and seven digs.
For the Hawks, senior Lara Lolacono (Lynbrook, N.Y.) and sophomore Katherine Pickard (St. Petersburg, Fla.) compiled 11 kills each.
The Hawks were in control early in the opening set, as they won the first six points on their way to building a 14-4 advantage. Western New England was never able to recover as Roger Williams cruised to a 25-13 triumph.
The second set started much like the first, with the visitors establishing a 13-3 cushion early. Western New England, which trailed 16-7, utilized a 7-0 run to close the gap to two (16-14), but Roger Williams stopped the rally there. The Hawks claimed four of the next five points to push their advantage back to five (20-15), and they went on to take the set 25-19 to open up a 2-0 lead in the match.
After falling into another early hole (6-1) in the third set, the Golden Bears were able to use a 6-0 spurt with two kills from Holmes to take their first lead of the day (13-11). With Western New England holding a 16-15 edge later in the frame, Roger Williams won four straight points to surge back ahead, 19-16. The back and forth continued, as WNE won the next three points to tie it up, before RWU won the next two to go ahead 21-19. Needing to win the set to keep the match alive, the Golden Bears posted a crucial 4-0 run that included two service aces from sophomore Taylor Deluga (Dennis, Mass.) regain the lead (23-21) for good. The Hawks would win one more point to cut their deficit to one, before a pair of Roger Williams attack errors ended the set in Western New England's favor.
The Golden Bears carried their momentum into the fourth set, as the won the first four points and led 10-2 early. Roger Williams quickly erased its deficit, however, posting an 11-3 run to tie the set 13-13. Western New England won the next four points to pull back ahead 17-13, but a 7-2 Hawk rally gave the visitors a 20-19 edge. The score remained close down the stretch, with the Golden Bears holding their final lead at 23-22 following a kill by Matthews. A WNE setting error followed by a Pickard kill put the Hawks in front 24-23, before a RWU service error tied the set for a the final time. The visitors emerged victorious on another Pickard kill followed by a WNE attack error, which ended the match.
• Western New England hit a match-best .296 during the Golden Bears' third set win. WNE hit .134 overall while RWU posted a .211 attack clip.
• Matthews and Holmes rank first and second on the team in kills with 280 and 249, respectively.
Western New England (12-15, 2-4 CCC) plays its final home match of the regular season on Wednesday night against Wentworth. Roger Williams (11-13, 4-2 CCC) returns home to host Curry on Wednesday.