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Volleyball enters final week of season with top seed hopes

VB 11-11 By Mike Rudin and Kevin Carroll - STAFF WRITER AND SPORTS EDITOR

After losing the Sacred Heart Pioneers this season at the Hofstra Invitational, Pride volleyball got their sweet revenge in a three-set sweep on Wednesday. Hofstra continued to roll through conference play on Friday night, defeating the Northeastern Huskies three sets to one at Cabot Gym.

Hofstra improves to 24-4 on the season, and leads the CAA with an 11-2 record.

Hofstra lost to Sacred Heart University in five sets on Sept. 13 in the Hofstra Invitational. Veronica Kostova led the Pride offense with 10 kills; Adama Aja tied her season high in kills with nine on the night. Kelsie Wills, Emily Burke and Luria Lopes da Silva shot eight kills each in the match.

“I thought we played a clean volleyball for most of the time which was very good. This is a team we’ve lost in five at the beginning of the season so coming back and winning 3-0 with a good, different [approach] at most of the sets,” said head coach Emily Mansur.

The first set was all Hofstra; as they outscored Sacred Heart 25-8 in dominant fashion. The Pride put up numerous point streaks in the first set, starting with a four-point burst after the 1-2 mark.

Once Sacred Heart shot one point to set the mark at 5-3, Hofstra set the tone outscoring 13 points in the next 15 to bring the score to 18-5 at one point. Moving forward to the 19-8 mark, Hofstra shot the last six points to take the first set and caught the Pioneers.

The Pride committed one error all set while scoring 15 kills in the first set. The Pioneers quadrupled the amount of errors as the Pride in the first set and shot only five kills.

Hofstra’s dominant performance in the first set would glimpse over into second set taking a 6-2 lead. The Sacred Heart Pioneers worked to recompose and reorganize themselves in order to chip away at Hofstra’s lead.

After the 6-2 mark, Sacred Heart split the next eight points down the middle with the Pride bringing the score to 10-6. Then the Pioneers stepped their play to not fall further behind but the Pride maintained the separation.

Hofstra kept at least a four-point lead over Sacred Heart through the middle of the set with an 18-14 score. Hofstra scored two more points but Sacred Heart retaliated with a four-point streak to bring the score to 20-18.

Hofstra’s Nuria Lopes da Silva set a mini spark to the Pride, scoring three consecutive kills, extending Hofstra’s lead to five points. Veronika Kostova provided two clutch kills to bring the score to 25-19 and hand Hofstra the 2-0 lead in the match.

The Pride wouldn’t put up as impressive numbers with 14 kills and surrendering five errors in the second set. The Pride also shot a .250 percentage, but it was sufficient enough to take the set.

Hofstra set up its game and take down Sacred Heart in the third and final set of the match, outscoring the Pioneers 25-16.

The third set started out with Pride soaring ahead and taking a 5-0 lead. Then similar to the second set, Sacred Heart matched Hofstra for every point up to the 10-5 mark. Hofstra and Sacred Heart battled back and forth, but the Pride ultimately took the third set as well as the match. Adama Aja provided the match-winning kill in the end.

Hofstra scored 15 kills in the third set and commited six errors. Though the team’s shooting percentage went up slightly to .300, compared to the second set.

Kelsie Wills led the defensive front instead of the offensive front for the Pride with 13 digs in the match. Corrina Delgadillo stayed on point with Wills also supplying 13 digs on the night.

The Pride hit the road for the final time this season, shipping up to Boston to take on the Huskies. While in town, the team made sure to stop by the soccer field to support the Hofstra women’s soccer team in their conference playoff matchup against Northeastern.

But the volleyball team had a match of their own to play, and wasted no time going right after the Huskies, controlling the first set early.

The Huskies showed tremendous toughness, fighting back from a 20-12 deficit to pull within three points of the Pride. The teams traded blows, but Hofstra was able to hang on to the first set, behind strong performances from standouts Kelsie Wills and Nuria Lopes da Silva, and on the heels of some costly errors from the Huskies.

The second set was also a tight affair, but after taking an early 5-4 lead, the Huskies were never able to recapture the lead, and fell to the Pride once more, this time by a score of 25-18.

Wills and Lopes da Silva continued to rack up kills for the Pride, as well as sophomore standout Veronika Kostova. As per usual, the Hofstra attack was firing on all cylinders, as contributions came from all over the court. Miscues continued to plague the Huskies, as five errors added to Hofstra’s score, including the point that clinched the set for the Pride.

Northeastern came roaring back in the third set, dodging a sweep with a 25-17 set victory. It was now Hofstra’s turn to make some uncharacteristic errors, allowing the Huskies to jump out to an early lead.

Down 9-8, Northeastern rattled off five straight points to take the lead, then were never really threatened by the Pride as they coasted to victory in the set. The Huskies were far from perfect in this set themselves, but played well enough to force a fourth set, hanging on for dear life.

It was not meant to be, however, as the fourth set saw Hofstra secure the match with a commanding 25-12 win. The Pride weren’t about to let Northeastern hang around any longer, and controlled the set from start to finish.

Hofstra posted two separate streaks of five consecutive points, as well as two more streaks of four points, en route to a comfortable victory in what would be the final set.

It was a night of stat sheet stuffing for the Pride, as three different players posted double-digit kills, and everyone on the floor chipped in to lead Hofstra to victory. Kelsie Wills led the way for the Pride, with a game-high 15 kills.

Right behind her was Veronika Kostova with 14 kills of her own, and Nuria Lopes da Silva added 11 more for the Pride. Corinna Delgadillo paced the Pride with 27 kills, and Hannah Klemm added an astonishing 45 assists.

For the Huskies, Brigitte Burcescu led the team with 13 kills, and Natalia Skiba led all scorers with 33 digs.

The Pride return home for their final three regular-season games, with James Madison next on their schedule, in a match to be played Thursday at the Mack Physical Education Center.

The Pride also host Charleston on Friday, and William & Mary on Sunday, completing the regular season with three games in four days.

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