Volleyball Sweeps In First NEC Win

Ryan Jones, Sports Editor

Central Connecticut volleyball did not hang their heads long after a heartbreaking loss to Long Island University, securing their first Northeast Conference win Saturday in a decisive sweep of Fairleigh Dickinson.

The Blue Devils completed their non-conference stretch of games with a 4-8 record, including sweeps in three of their wins.

To kick off their NEC schedule, CCSU hosted the LIU Sharks. Last year, the Blue Devils defeated LIU Brooklyn for the first time since 2010 in their final game of the regular season (LIU Brooklyn and LIU Post merged this offseason for athletics).

Whether history factored into the match or not, the energy of a heated rivalry was there. In the words of head coach Linda Sagnelli, “this was like a finals match.”

Two freshmen started in the match for the Blue Devils. Isabelle Roufs and Taylor Buckley got the starting nods for CCSU, something that was to be expected after an impressive start to the season from the young core. Roufs is already fourth on the team with 93 points while Buckley ranks fourth with an impressive two kills per set. “I knew the freshmen would contribute, for sure,” Sagnelli said after the match.

The Blue Devils did not come out of the gates hot against the Sharks, but still only narrowly lost the first two sets by four points each.

CCSU did not hang their heads long after dropping the first two, and came out in the third with a 6-0 run. The Blue Devils went on to hit a game high .312 in the third while taking the set 25-16.

Defense stole the show for the Blue Devils in the fourth. forcing a .053 hitting percentage and nine errors from the Sharks as they rolled to a 25-20 set win.

In the deciding fifth set, both teams battled for the ever-important conference win. The teams sat tied at 13 late, but two straight from the Sharks sealed the victory for LIU.

Senior Madelyn Kaprelyan posted 18 kills, 21 assists and 11 digs in the match, her third triple-double of the season.

“We could have just decided to give up after losing set one and set two, and we didn’t,” Sagnelli said. “It was all about having heart, determination and fight. I love what I saw coming down from an 0-2 deficit.”

Sagnelli was proud of her team’s performance against LIU, but emphasized that this won’t be the last time the Blue Devils would be challenged this season.

“We’re right there,” Sagnelli said. “We know it’s gonna be a battle, there’s a lot of good teams in this conference. It’s going to be a battle to get top four right from the very first day as you could see.”

The second game of the weekend was a polar opposite for the Blue Devils as they took on Fairleigh Dickinson.

With the first set tied at 19, CCSU pushed out a 6-1 run to close out the first.

The Blue Devils kept rolling in the second, forcing an astounding -.025 hitting percentage thanks to a strong defensive showing.

After a decisive win in the second, the Blue Devils hit a game high .405 on their way to the set and match victory.

“Today we strung a lot of things together that we didn’t do yesterday,” Roufs said. “We started off stronger than we did yesterday.”

While Fairleigh Dickinson currently is winless on the season (0-15) Sagnelli was still proud of the team’s performance.

“We want to set our own standards no matter who is across the net,” Sagnelli said.

“Even though yesterday was such a disappointing loss, we know that game could have went either way. We took away so many important lessons from that and positive things that we just want to build on top of that and become a little sharper next week and a little sharper after that. If we can get one percent better every week, then we’re doing something good. One team one focus, that’s what we’re going to be saying going forward.”