The Pride hosted Princeton, USC Upstate and Central Michigan University this past weekend for the Hofstra Volleyball Invitational at the Mack Physical Education Building. Hofstra opened the tournament on Friday night with a four set win against Princeton. Hofstra had a slow start in their first set, garnering only 11 kills and 15 errors off 48 kill attempts, losing to Princeton 21-25. Yet, as the match continued, the team started to hit their stride. Hofstra would even the match at 1-1 with a 25-20 win in the second set. Their momentum continued into the third set. Hofstra jumped out to an early 8-4 lead and never relinquished the lead, eventually going on to win 25-16. The fourth and final set was point-for-point, the two teams tying nine times before the Pride jumped out in front, winning 25-20.
Head coach Kristina Hernandez believed some of the Pride’s success came from better communication on the court. “It’s something that we needed to do when we weren’t playing so well over the past weekend,” said Hernandez. “They’re all trying to be really active and really push each other. They kept working and they didn’t get quiet.”
Sophomore setter Kaitlyn Kraus put up big numbers for the Pride with 8 kills, 15 digs, and 27 assists. Junior hitter Kelsie Wills led the offense with 22 kills for Hofstra.
Hernandez believed the win would help get the team back on the right track after a stretch of losses. “We needed to be able to bounce back and have a good win,” said Hernandez. “Not a win that we didn’t earn.” Hofstra’s victory against Princeton Friday night at the Mack Center Sports Complex was just the start to their winning weekend.
The bounce back continued against USC Upstate on Saturday afternoon. The Pride jumpedto an early lead in their first set, provided by an 8 point serving run from Corrina Delgadillo. Kelsie Wills also stood out, making her presence known in the first set. “They played defense really well, USC Upstate,” Coach Hernandez said. “Kelsie was mixing up what she was doing, running some twos and threes…to score points.” Wills would go on to have 18 kills in the match.
After their 25-17 win in the first set, the Pride’s aggressiveness seemed to fade. “We got a little complacent in the second set,” said Hernandez. “Our aggression in that set really wasn’t the way it was for the entire match.” Hofstra had 11 attack errors against the USC Spartans in the second set, contributing to the team’s 20-25 loss.
The Pride rallied back against USC in the third and fourth sets, winning 25-14 and 25-18, respectively. Hitter Emily Burke provided Hofstra with some key kills late in the match to secure their win. “You saw some glimpses of her big powerful swings,” said Hernandez. “Which is what we want to make sure that we’re bringing out…throughout the rest of the season.” Krause also contributed 25 assists, while Libero Sophia Black had 20 digs throughout the match.
Hofstra’s third and final match of the invitational against the Central Michigan Chippewas proved to be their most challenging. The Pride would go on to win the intense match in four sets with the help of another exciting performance from Wills, who had 23 kills for the Pride. Nuria Lopes da Silva also contributed ten kills.
Hofstra won the first set of the match, beating the Chippewas, 25-21. The energy of the game carried into the second set, but Central Michigan rallied to beat Hofstra marginally by a score of 25-23. The third set brought more dramatics as Sarah Campolina made a dig that would change the course of the match. “I don’t know how she made that dig,” Hernandez said. “We were able to play that ball off and get a really big kill…I think when players, especially our middles, can make great plays life that, it gives us a lot of extra energy.” The Pride would rally back after Central Michigan led nearly the entire set to win 26-24, taking a 2-1 lead. Hofstra would never return the lead in the fourth set, taking the match in four sets.
“It was just a great match overall,” Hernandez said. “Really great volleyball, point for point.” Hofstra’s three wins at the tournament would improve their record to 7-3, while improving their home record to 7-0. Lopes da Silva and Wills were named to the Hofstra Invitational All-Tournament Team, along with Kaitlyn McIntyre of Central Michigan, Tiana Woolridge of Princeton and Kayla Eversgerd of USC Upstate. Wills was also named the tournament MVP.
Hofstra will travel to Philadelphia this weekend to play in the Temple Invitational.