November 3, 2013

Women's Volleyball Wins Three Unanswered Sets to Complete Thrilling Come-From-Behind Victory Over Saint Peter's, 3-2

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Down two sets and on the brink of another defeat, the Quinnipiac women's volleyball team dug in and morphed into the superior team, winning the final three sets to claim a 3-2 victory over Saint Peter's. The dazzling performance by the Bobcats was their first comeback from two sets down in a match since Nov. 15, 2009 (110 matches) but it was their first time coming back from that deficit on the road since before the 2003 season (over 300 matches). Sophomore Chandler Thornton (Arlington, Texas) had a career day for Quinnipiac while junior Brittanie Robinson (Fresno, Calif.) stepped up with an incredibly strong day from the setter position in helping secure the victory. Quinnipiac snaps their nine game losing streak to improve to 5-22 (3-11 MAAC) while the Peacocks fall to 4-25 (2-15 MAAC).

The story of the match was the Bobcats' defensive unit as the team combined for 56 digs and 12 total blocks to cause all sorts of problems for the Saint Peter's hitters who committed 30 errors compared to just 18 for the Bobcats. Four Bobcats (Robinson 14, Thornton 11, Cody Michaels 10, Tanner Celestin 10) tallied at least 10 digs which marked just the second time in 27 matches this season Quinnipiac has achieved the feat.

Robinson's team-high 14 digs combined with 28 assists to go along with four blocks and three assists showcased her game-changing ability from the setter position. Thornton, meanwhile, tied her career high with 13 kills combined with 11 digs, two blocks and two service aces. Both players notched their second double doubles of the season in Sunday's victory.

Freshman Cody Michaels (Versailles, Ky.) saw action in all five sets and went for a career high 10 digs on the afternoon to go along with four assists and a service ace. A pair of classmates also went for big days as Allison Leigh (Palmer, Alaska) continued to work her way towards the single season blocks record with nine (two solo, seven assists) in addition to eight kills while Jamie Paolucci (Lake Mary, Fla.) posted a solid line with six kills and six digs.

The difference for Saint Peter's in the first two sets was their play from the service line as they tallied 10 aces compared to just one for the Bobcats. This allowed for a great deal of separation through the frame and a relatively easy couple of set victories for the Peacocks, 25-15 and 25-16 within the first two sets of play. The Peacocks' Dayana Arrufat was having her way early on with nine kills through the two set victories.

The Bobcats flipped the script beginning in the third set as Thornton started to take over with five of her 13 kills in the stanza alone while the defense was dominant throughout with seven total team blocks. They built a nice early lead off the swing of senior Bonnie Conklin (Plano, Texas) who tallied a pair of aces and then Leigh took over combining with junior Tanner Celestin (Norco, Calif.), Thornton and Robinson on blocks to extend the Bobcat lead to 10-5. Paolucci added a kill and service ace in the middle stages of the set to maintain the four point lead. Saint Peter's narrowed the gap to as few as one point at 22-21 but Thornton picked up two clutch kills to claim the victory, 25-22.

Quinnipiac's offense was hitting on all cylinders in the fourth set, recording 14 kills compared to just three errors for a .407 hitting percentage. Celestin stepped up with three kills and six digs while Thornton and Leigh each contributed four kills. Robinson facilitated the ball well throughout with 12 assists in the fourth frame alone. Arrufat and Leigh went back-and-forth in the early going as the Bobcats led by only two at 14-11 but they won 11 of the next 16 points to seize control and force the match into a deciding fifth set. Thornton keyed the run with three kills and one block as the Bobcats had all sorts of momentum riding into the fifth.

The fifth set was all about errors as the Bobcats tallied only four kills compared to eight for the Peacocks but Quinnipiac played error-free volleyball down the stretch while Saint Peter's amassed seven errors in the frame. Thornton's serving (two aces) loomed large for the Bobcats in the closing stages as they fought off a late Peacock rally to claim the set and victory, 15-11.

Quinnipiac's triumph gives them a wave of confidence heading into their final home matches of the season next weekend as they welcome Iona (Saturday) and Manhattan (Sunday). The senior tandem of Conklin and Logan Riker will be honored before the start of the Manhattan match as it marks the final home matches in their respective careers.

Contact: Maxx McNall; maxx.mcnall@quinnipiac.edu