By: Angelo Brussich (Sports Editor) The Hofstra volleyball team pushed its undefeated record to six to start off the 2012 season with a three sets to two victory over the Siena Saints Friday night at the Physical Education Building.
The contest saw the Pride (6-0) jump out to a two sets to none lead and pushed Siena (2-4) to the brink, but the Saints won the third set in extended points and rode the momentum to a decisive fourth set victory setting up the critical fifth set.
“I think that we were getting a little frazzled," said Hofstra head coach Kristina Hernandez. "Siena was doing a really good job defensively and I think they got a little frazzled and I just needed them to calm down and worry about scoring each point individually.”
In the first two sets Hofstra was very much in control of the game, even when falling behind the team remained poised. In the first set Hofstra jumped out to an early lead and never looked back taking a 25-20 victory.
In set two, Sienna held onto the lead well into the later parts of the game, but could not shake the Pride, who was able to hang around and gain momentum late going on a seven to one scoring run to close out the game 25-21.
“Our serving was really tough at the beginning and we did a really good job of keeping them out of system,” said Hernandez.
Sophomore outside hitter Kelsie Wills played another strong game for the Pride on both sides of the ball, leading all players with 27 kills while also collecting 15 digs.
“She’s obviously our go to (player),” said Hernandez, “I don’t think that even despite those numbers she probably doesn’t think that she had a good game. I think she had some opportunities she would have liked to do something better with, but she’s got to work through those.”
Set three saw the tide of the match begin to turn in Siena’s favor, with a tough tug of war like game that saw 16 tie scores and nine lead changes. Each team seemed to be matching the other point for point especially as the scores rose into the twenties and then finally extending into the thirties. The Saints would come out on top in this set 32-30, seemingly jolting life back into a team on the verge of being swept.
Riding its newfound surge of momentum, Siena rolled over the Pride in the fourth set. The Saints jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, defeating Hofstra 25-16.
“It’s really hard to come back from those games that go into extended points, especially when you know whoever wins that match is going to have momentum and Siena definitely got momentum,” said Hernandez, “They wanted that fourth set, they got out, they earned it. We weren’t ready, we weren’t ready to play defense, so I think that Siena did a really good job on the fourth set of coming back.”
After relaxing her team before the fifth and final set, Hernandez watched as the Pride regained the poise and tenacity it had in the beginning of the match. Hofstra jumped out to the early lead and did not allow for the Saints to stay around a possibly mount a comeback.
With Hofstra on match point and Siena trying to do what they can to stay alive, it was junior middle blocker Nikki Kinnier who came up with the final kill to put the game away.
“She [Kinnier] took some big swings for us, our outside Siena was kind of overloading the block a little bit and Nikki freed that up and scored some big points for us when we needed to get the ball back.” said Hernandez.
The Pride return to action Saturday September 1, with a rematch against St. Francis (NY) College, whom the Pride had just defeated Wednesday night in a three sets to none sweep. Hofstra will look to match its great start of the 2011 season by trying to win its first seven contests of the year.
Says Hernandez on facing a team twice in such a short period of time, “We’re trying to teach our team to be prepared for every opponent every time we play and to do the same thing, so we want to come out and we want to play aggressively and make sure that we maintain that through the whole match, and not just go in spurts and sets.”