Volleyball Wins in First Two NEC Matches


Julia Jade Moran

The Blue Devils are tied for first atop the NEC standings early.

Robert Gullo, Staff Writer

The Blue Devils are back in business. Shaking off the tough out of conference losses the start of the season saw, Central Connecticut volleyball started off Northeaster conference play strong, winning their first two games. The Blue Devils defeated Robert Morris and Saint Francis U, improving to 5-8 on the year.

In both of the teams’ kickoff to NEC play, the Blue Devils steamrolled Robert Morris, defeating them in straight sets.

CCSU had a strong momentum from the start, jumping out to a commanding 16-9 lead early in the first set. Sophomore Emma Henderson would set up the set point after a service ace (she would finish with two) that was followed up by a Robert Morris service error that gave Central the first set, 25-16.

The second set was more of the same from the Blue Devils, who held an 11-2 just minutes into the set. Central did no looking back and won the second set 25-15 after some very fluid offense.

The script was quickly flipped in the third set, as Robert Morris were the ones to hold the lead, albeit only an 11-9 one. A quick back and forth from both teams saw the score tied at 21 late, though Henderson’s second ace of the set put CCSU in the lead and ultimately won them the set, 25-23.

Junior Madelyn Kaprelyan posted a double-double (13 kills, 15 assists) while senior Raquel Quirarte stuffed the stat sheet, putting up 12 kills, four digs and 3 blocks. Junior Erin McDermott was also a focal point of the offense, adding in a monster 24 assists for the Blue Devils.

In Central’s second match of the weekend, the Blue Devils were able to get through Saint Francis U, winning 3-1.

CCSU got a lot of their help in the second match from Quirarte and Kaprelyan, who both had double-doubles. Ashlyn Eisenga contributed as well with 18 digs.

In the first set against Saint Francis, the Blue Devils and Red Flash battled back and forth, though multiple CCSU errors saw Saint Francis lead 12-6. A kill from Henderson cut the score to 12-9, but the Red Flash were able to extend their lead to 18-9 after another 6-0 run. Saint Francis would close the set and win 25-18 committing only four errors to Central’s eight.

The Blue Devils looked like a different team heading into the second set. They started off with a 10-3 lead led by Quirarte and Eisenga. SFU would not cut it closer than three for the rest of the set. The set ended 25-15 in favor of the Blue Devils.

Head coach Linda Sagnelli emphasized what improved the team’s play being down a set.

“The connection that we had between our setters and hitters that improved in the second set, once that improved, it let everything else flow,” Sagnelli said.

The momentum would carry into the third set. After a competitive start that led to a score tied at six, Central would go on a seven-point run and extend their lead to 13-6. Central would continue this dominance down the stretch and close the third set with another 25-15 win.

Central started the fourth set much like the first. They were down 5-0 early on and committed a few errors up to that point.

“You have to not look at the scoreboard and you just have to play your point,” Sagnelli explained, stating the importance of being composed and playing with the mentality of one point at a time.

Saint Francis had what looked like to be a comfortable lead of 13-5 halfway through the set. A Kaprelyan kill would kick off an 8-2 run from Central that cut the SFU lead to two. After a few more errors from Central saw the score go to 19-16, the Blue Devils rebounded with their most important run of the match. Central closed out the set scoring eight-straight points due largely in part Saint Francis committing six errors in that span.

The Blue Devils will continue NEC play at Saint Francis (BKN) on Friday and will look to improve to 6-8.

“We look for something to improve on every single week. Most of the time it depends on the opponent we play,” Sagnelli said on how the team gets better each week in preparation of their next matchup.