By Nick Mazzarella and Kevin Carroll - STAFF WRITER AND SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE Coming off the first conference loss of the year at James Madison, Hofstra bounced back to sweep The University of North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks on Friday night at the Mack Physical Education Building for the second time this season. Set scores were 25-21, 25-23, 25-18.
Hofstra improved to 20-3 overall and 8-1 in the CAA, while UNC-Wilmington fell to 15-8 (5-4 CAA).
In the first set, neither team led by more than two points until Hofstra held a 16-13 advantage. An 8-3 run turned a 13-13 tie into a 21-16 lead for the Pride, helping them pull away from UNC-Wilmington. Sophomore outside hitter Veronika Kostova tied her career high with 17 kills – seven of which came in the opening set.
“Every match, Veronika is getting better and better at different things,” said head coach Emily Mansur. “She’s really becoming a great asset to the team.”
Hofstra and UNC-Wilmington went back-and-forth again in a second set that featured 15 ties. Mansur used both of her timeouts after two 3-0 runs by the Seahawks had them ahead at 10-7 and 22-19. But Kostova took over at the end, tallying four kills in the Pride’s 6-1 run that closed the second set.
Hofstra recovered from a slow start in the third set. After trailing 11-6, the Pride scored six, unanswered, and were never behind again. Senior outside hitter Kelsie Wills and senior right side hitter Emily Burke combined for 10 kills in the set; as a team, UNC-Wilmington only had nine.
“We’ve been struggling in the last set, and we were down again,” said Mansur. “But they found a way to get a consistent run.”
Mansur made a change in the back row for Friday’s match, giving junior Corrina Delgadillo the start at libero. She followed up a 17-dig performance versus James Madison with a match-high 14 digs against UNC-Wilmington.
“I thought Corrina did a phenomenal job,” said Mansur. “She brought a very calm vibe to us.”
Kostova, Wills and Burke all notched double-digit kills, and sophomore setter Hannah Klemm had 45 assists.
When asked about the approach to practice following a loss instead of a win, Mansur acknowledged a difference.
“After a 3-0 loss, we had to come to practice and really have the extra push to understand it was only one loss,” Mansur said. “That’s over, and we just have to keep going.”
The Pride continued their reign over the CAA with a decisive three-set sweep of Elon University, 25-21, 25-14 and 25-19 on Sunday at the Mack.
After a shocking loss to conference foe James Madison last Saturday, the Pride have returned to top form, while the Elon Phoenix came onto campus still searching for their first conference victory.
The Phoenix came out of the gate firing, keeping the first set tight from start to finish. With the first set deadlocked at 11, the Pride began to show the type of dominance that propelled them to the top of the CAA standings. Strong service play by Hannah Klemm, and another superb performance by Kelsie Wills led the Pride to a first set victory, 25-21, with the deciding kill coming off of the hand of Nuria Lopes da Silva.
From there, Hofstra slowly took over the game, proving too much for the Phoenix to handle. Elon never threatened, with a 25-11 victory for the Pride in the second set.
Wills and Lopes da Silva led the charge for Hofstra, contributing all over the court with leadership and tremendous hustle after every ball. Sophia Black continued to add to her team-leading dig total, and everyone on the floor added to the stat sheet in some way.
The third set had a little more back-and-forth play, with Elon refusing to go down easily. Hannah Klemm continued to shine, serving the ball for Hofstra with back-to-back service aces shifting the momentum in favor of the Pride.
Hofstra had won 39 straight games when taking the first two sets, and Sunday proved no different, as they swept the Phoenix away with a 25-19 win in the third and decisive set.
There were many star performances for Hofstra during the match, but arguably the biggest was that of senior Kelsie Wills, who continued to add to her school-record total of kills, with 12, and also provided 10 digs in the win. Lopes da Silva added 10 kills, and Klemm added seven kills, in addition to her outstanding job serving the ball. Black chipped in 10 digs, tied for team-high with Wills. For the Phoenix, Sydney Busa led the way with seven kills, while Chanelle Smith had a game-high 11 digs.
Though the win at Elon put the Pride back to their winning ways, Mansur said that the effort wasn’t the best she has seen from her team.
“It was a 3-0 win, so it always good to get the sweep,” said Mansur. “But the offense was very slow.”
With the win, Hofstra improves to an astonishing 21-3 on the year, while maintaining their lead in the CAA standings with a 9-1 record. Elon falls to 5-21 with the loss, and remains winless in conference play with a mark of 0-10.
Next up for the Hofstra volleyball team heads to Delaware, where they will take on the University of Delaware. From there, they will travel to Towson University, who currently sits just below Hofstra in the CAA standings, before returning home to the Mack Physical Education Building next Tuesday, Nov. 4 to take on Sacred Heart University.