ERIE | In its final road game of the 2017 campaign, the Kutztown University women’s volleyball team fell to the Mercyhurst University Lakers in four sets (17-25, 17-25, 25-21, 24-26).
The Lakers controlled action early in the opening set, scoring eight of the first nine points to go ahead, 8-1. Despite the significant deficit, KU clawed its way back into the match, closing the gap to 13-9 following back-to-back kills from Holly Owen (Hatboro, Pa./Hatboro-Horsham) and Alli Henderson (Boalsburg, Pa./State College Area).
MU quickly silenced the Kutztown rally in the first frame, however, scoring the next four points to put itself in front 17-9, prompting a timeout from Head Coach John Gump. The break in action did little to change the outcome of this set, as the Lakers finished it off with a kill to claim the set one victory, 25-17.
Set two was competitive from the opening serve as both sides were deadlocked at 9-all following a Brittney Moyer (Orwigsburg, Pa./Blue Mountain (Lock Haven)) kill. Leading 11-10, Mercyhurst opened the first lead of two or more, scoring three-straight to go on top, 14-10.
With this margin in hand, the Lakers continued to keep their feet on the gas pedal as the set progressed, holding a 24-16 lead late in the frame. A kill from Jessica Howe (Chambersburg, Pa./Chambersburg Area) was answered by a Mercyhurst kill, giving MU the set two victory, 25-17, and a 2-0 lead in the match.
The beginning of the third set was much like the second with each team trading points back-and-forth to the 6-all mark. At this juncture, KU took its first significant lead of the match, using three kills from Moyer amidst a four-point run to take a 10-6 lead.
Down 14-8, the Lakers climbed back into the third set with a five-point run to cut the KU lead to one. An Owen kill ended the MU rally and sparked a run for the Golden Bears. Kutztown ran off five of the next six points to take control of set number three, ahead 20-14.
Holding this advantage, the Maroon and Gold finished off the third set with a flourish, capping it with back-to-back kills from Owen and Henderson to secure the 25-21 victory.
Trailing just 2-1 in the match, KU showed no signs of quitting in a knock-down-drag-out fourth set. Four consecutive Golden Bear tallies staked Kutztown to a 12-8 lead midway through frame number four.
The Lakers quickly battled back as the set continued, evening the score at 17-all following a four-point run. The score would remain tied until the 20-20 mark when Mercyhurst made the most critical push of the afternoon.
Four-straight points from MU were answered by KU with four of their own, showing this side’s unwillingness to go down easily. Tied at 24-all, Mercyhurst delivered in the clutch with back-to-back kills to dispatch the Golden Bears in set four, 26-24, winning the match by a 3-1 score.
Offensively, the foursome of Henderson, Howe, Moyer and Owen combined for 38 of the team’s 41 overall kills. Howe contributed the most significant individual performance on the offensive end, posting 12 kills at a .292 clip adding six block assists and five digs.
Four different Golden Bears posted double-digit digs on the afternoon, as Sydney Wilson (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty), Madisyn Kleinfelter (Jonestown, Pa./Northern Lebanon), Henderson and Wilson patrolled the backcourt to the tune of 57 combined digs.
With the loss, KU falls to 7-18 and 2-11 in PSAC play while the Lakers improve to 9-15 overall and 4-9 in PSAC competition.
The Maroon and Gold take back to the hardwood, returning home for its next competition against Edinboro University on Friday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.