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CSE rally falls short against PSU Abington; Cooper, Wrights combine for 35 kills

CSE rally falls short against PSU Abington; Cooper, Wrights combine for 35 kills

MORRISTOWN, N.J. -- Saint Elizabeth sophomore outside hitter Katie Cooper had a team-high 19 kills while middle hitter Subhana Wrights added 16 kills as the Screaming Eagles were unable to complete the comeback in a marathon volleyball match in North Eastern Athletic Conference action Wednesday night at St. Joseph's Hall. 

Down two sets to the visiting Nittany Lions of Penn State Abington, CSE (10-3, 2-2 NEAC) rallied to win the third and fourth sets and fought back to tie the fifth set. But the visitors pushed through for the final two points and exited St. Joseph's Hall with a crucial NEAC win, 3-2. The set scores read 25-22, 25-21, 20-25, 18-25, 16-14 in the two-hour match.

The Screaming Eagles trailed in both of the early sets and looked to be headed for an early exit courtesy of Penn State Abington (9-3, 3-1 NEAC).

But if anything can be learned from the 2012 CSE volleyball team, it is that the squad won't roll over.

In the third set, the Screaming Eagles opened up a 10-5 lead following a productive service run by senior Nashlly Sokoli and a kill by Wrights. CSE maintained its six-point advantage with a kill and a service ace by Katie Cooper. An overpass by CSE ended up on the net and setter Amy Cooper bested the PSU Abington defender for a kill and a 21-13 lead that quickly turned into a 25-20 set victory.

Wrights keyed strong play by CSE at the start of the fourth set, putting down another kill for a 5-2 set lead. Amy Cooper and sophomore Kiara Francisco combined for a block on the PSU Abington attack and the Screaming Eagles opened up an 11-4 advantage. Wrights found another kill, playing down a second ball to get the lead to 17-12. Two points later it was junior Kareemah Muhammad's turn to post a kill on the attack for the Screaming Eagles. A run of hitting errors flung the door wide open for CSE and another kill by Katie Cooper brought the Screaming Eagles to match point which easily jumped to a set victory to even the match.

In the final set, the Nittany Lions dug in their heels and took a 4-2 lead. Wrights ran off consecutive kills to even the score. PSU Abington got into its strongest rotation midway through the set and ran off three consecutive kills to take a 13-8 lead. But a pair of hitting errors brought CSE closer and Katie Cooper's kill narrowed the deficit to 13-11 PSU Abington. 

The Screaming Eagles fought off three match points -- once with a Katie Cooper kill -- and at 14-13 Katie Cooper combined with Francisco for a block to knot the match at 14-all. PSU Abington pushed forward for the final two points and the crucial NEAC win.

Katie Cooper finished with 19 kills and 24 digs. Wrights added her 16 kills and 2.5 blocks while Muhammad added seven kills. 

Amy Cooper directed the offense with 41 assists and added a team-best three aces. Sophomore Rachel Hausler topped the defense with 32 digs.

The Screaming Eagles will be on the road for five of its next six matches, starting on Saturday with a trip to Baltimore to take on the College of Notre Dame in Maryland. The lone home match will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 2 when John Jay visits St. Joseph's Hall for a 7 p.m. contest.