By Angelo Brussich (Sports Editor) “Calm down” was the message Hofstra head coach Kristina Hernandez’s sent to her team during the Pride’s match against James Madison University on Friday night at the Hofstra Recreation Center.
Heeding her advice, Hofstra was able to come away with a 3-1 match victory, not allowing past game failures to creep into mind. It was one week ago that Hofstra had taken a 2-0 lead on William & Mary, only to watch it slip away and lose the match 3-2.
“I don’t think there was panic,” said Hernandez. “The key for them was to not be panicked and to kind of take a deep breath and get back under control, and make smart good plays when they felt a little bit of pressure.”
After cruising to a 2-0 lead, it seemed early in the third set that the Pride (14-9, 2-2 CAA) would come away with a sweep of JMU (9-8, 2-1 CAA), but the Dukes fought back to tie the game and then take the lead.
Each team would match point-for-point through the twenties, with the energy level rising through to extra time. But a block on Hofstra junior outside hitter Nikki Kinnier’s would-be match-point kill turned the tide of the set and JMU pulled out the victory 27-25.
The Pride would not allow for JMU to build on any momentum carried over from the emotional third set, and in the fourth Hofstra was relentless on the attack, and would defeat the Dukes 25-15.
“We really wanted to see some consistency, offensively, with what we were doing; and after that third set we had some attacking errors and it’s really nice to see them bounce back,” said Hernandez.
Hofstra was lead by senior setter Catalina Charry who finished one kill shy of a triple double, totaling nine kills and leading all players with 30 assists and 19 digs.
“Catalina was working extremely hard,” said Hernandez. “I mean she was all over the floor. She was attacking, she was digging balls, she was picking up tips. She is definitely our leader out there. I think she did a really good job of just being really steady and making good plays for us.”
Set one saw Hofstra jump on the Dukes early, with JMU playing catch-up for the rest of the game. The Dukes would crawled back to tie the game at 18, but Hofstra was propelled by two service aces by junior middle blocker Sara Campolina, to come away with the 25-21 set win.
The second set was tightly contested with eight tie scores in the game, but Hofstra would not allow the Dukes to take a grasp of the set. Almost every time that JMU tied the score, Hofstra would get the next point to maintain the lead.
Hofstra was also aided by a match high 0.355 hitting percentage in that second set and the Pride came away with the 25-17 victory.
“I think our team did a really good job defensively on picking up the picks and the roll shots that they were going to do,” said Hernandez. “That was a big part of our game plan and something that we worked on this week.”
The Pride got strong play from its players along the net, helping to free up its outside hitters sophomore Kelsie Wills and Kinnier, who finished one and two in kills with 18 and 14.
“It’s really important for them [middle blockers] to get in the matches and to start scoring some points for us so we can get some breathing room,” said Hernandez. “I think they’re doing a good job of being more consistent with that.”