MORRISTOWN, N.J. – The College of Saint Elizabeth’s women’s volleyball team opened the 2012 campaign with a tough match versus the Red Hawks of Montclair State University. CSE and MSU traded points early, unable to get a consistent transition game. The Red Hawks started to slowly establish that part of the game first and jumped out to a 10-5 lead. The Eagles started to find their transition game as well and behind the tough serving of Captain Amy Cooper, the Eagles edged back to within 1 at 12-11. In a set of momentum waves, the Red Hawks took the next wave and began to pull away late, racing out to a 20-16 lead. The Eagles could not recover and after a few errors on their part, MSU sealed the set at 25-17.
Set two started off fast for the Eagles. CSE took a 4-1 lead early but MSU recovered their poise after a timeout and went on a 12-2 run which was fueled by numerous Eagle offensive miscues. The Red Hawks kept up the pressure and extended the lead to 19-12 before the Eagles were able to mount a rally. Led by Katie Cooper in the front row, the Eagles crawled back to within three at 23-20 but could come no closer as the Red Hawks got a kill out of the middle and an ace to close out the set.
The Eagles fell behind early in the third set and were unable to mount a serious threat to the Red Hawks. CSE fell behind 11-2 due to service and passing errors and were unable to bridge that nine point gap even though the match was fairly even from that point on. At 21-13, the Red Hawks looked to be poised to wrap up the set and match when the Eagles went on a mini 3-0 run and pulled within five. The Eagles could not generate any more consistent offense as the team fell into the passing woes of the earlier part of the set and bowed out at 25-16.
In the second match of the day, CSE took on the Steels of the Culinary Institute.
The Eagles jumped out to a 10-2 lead behind the tough serving of Rachel Hausler and looked to have the set well in control as the Steels could not muster any consistent offense while the Eagles seemed not to be able to miss. The Eagles extended their lead to 21-9 and never looked back as the Steels could not get passed the Eagle blockers. The Eagles finished off the first set on a 4-0 run and won it by a 25-9 score.
The second set proved to be a different story. The Steels found their offense and the Eagles, nearly error free during the first set, could not seem to get into rhythm in set two. The set was a back and forth affair with neither team able to pull away by more than two or three points at any given time. With the score 9-6 CSE, Culinary went on a 3-0 run to tie the score but the Eagles did not falter and maintained control of the set trading points with the Steels. Both teams were attacking and serving efficiently, which caused numerous ties (12-12, 13-13,14-14) in the middle portion of the set. The Eagles were able to open up a slight lead at 17-14 thanks to K. Cooper's serving and the blocking of Co-Captains Subhana Wrights and A. Cooper. That seemed to be the spark the team needed as they maintained that slimmest of margins until late in the set at 23-20 thanks to timely hitting and defense. The Steels could not seem to recover and CSE closed it out 25-22.
The second set was a harbinger of things to come for the Eagles however; the Steels had found their offense and were forcing the Eagles into tough offensive options. The pattern continued in set three but this time, it was CSE that seemed to err on almost every ball early. Trailing early 8-3, Coach Martins called a timeout to address the team and the Eagles seemed to come back onto the court a bit more settled. CSE went on a 6-3 run which saw the Eagles close to within two at 11-9 thanks to their tough serving. The hitting and passing errors crept up again and the Steels took full advantage, going on a 9-0 run which took the lead up to 20-9. In a testament to their character, the Eagles went on a run of their own (8-3) which closed the gap to six at 23-17 but another two passing errors sealed the deal for the Steels as they took the set 25-17.
A demoralized Eagle team did not respond well to the start of the fourth set and found themselves down early 6-2. CSE fought back to within one at 7-6 behind some solid defense and blocking. Unfortunately, the Eagle offense yielded many errors and the Steels went on a 14-4 (21-10) run that more than gave Culinary the cushion they needed to win the set four by a 25-14 margin.
The decisive final set saw a gritty and determined Eagle team rally themselves into the match as Taisha Colon played seamlessly. The Steels took an early 2-0 lead but the Eagles bounced back with a 3-0 run driven by two kills by K. Cooper and a block by A.Cooper and Wrights. The teams kept trading points as expected but the Steels took control back of the set with another 2-0 run that saw the Eagles commit two attack errors (7-6). After the teams changed sides with CSE trailing 8-7, the Steels looked to expand their lead but it was CSE who took control of the set with a 5-2 run that put the team on the precipice of their first victory at 13-10. The Steels proceeded to go on a 3-0 run to take a 14-13 lead with one kill, a block and an Eagle error. With the Steels serving for the match, Rachel Hausler then passed a perfect three ball to A. Cooper who found Wrights out of the middle for an enormous kill that tied the set at 14-14. A serving error, however, put the match back in the Steels' hands. After a quick serve receive adjustment by Coach Martins, A. Cooper put up a playable ball to Wrights who proceeded to set Kareemah Muhammad for a kill to tie the set at 15 again. Yet again, Colon, stepped up and delivered a tough serve that forced the Steels into an out of system attack and an error. Colon delivered on the next serve as well with a short serve that was not returnable and the wounded Eagles escape with their first hard-fought victory of the season.
The Eagles will travel to Bryn Athyn for a quad match Sat., Sept. 8 beginning at 11am.