The streak of sweeps extended to three Saturday, as Central Connecticut volleyball collected their third win in only nine sets.
The Blue Devils’ first match of the weekend came against the Merrimack Warriors; this was the first time the teams have played each other, as this is Merrimack’s first year of contention in the Northeast Conference.
Merrimack played some of its’ sharpest volleyball in the first, but seven errors from the Warriors helped the Blue Devils secure a 25-19 set victory to open the match.
The Blue Devils’ defense, which is first in NEC play with nine in conference play, again shined in the second. CCSU forced a negative attack percentage (-.033) from the Warriors while handily taking the set 25-13.
Junior Emma Henderson led the way in the third for CCSU. She piled on four of the Blue Devils’ 13 kills and also snuck two service aces past the Warriors. CCSU went on to take the set, sweeping Merrimack in three sets.
The Blue Devils traveled back home to take on St. Francis Brooklyn. In their last time out, the Terriers forced 4-1 Bryant to five sets, something that did not go unnoticed by head coach Linda Sagnelli.
“When we heard that Bryant went five with St. Francis, we knew we had to prepare very well to play against this team,” Sagnelli said.
The defense was the focal point for CCSU against the Terriers. After allowing the SFBK offense to flow a bit in the first, freshman serving specialist Molly Pincince served on four consecutive CCSU scores before Gala Galabova sealed the set victory with a kill. The Blue Devils went on to force back-to-back negative hitting percentages in the second and third.
Junior Eline van Heijninjen went down in the second set with an ankle injury and had to be helped off of the court. She would not return to the game. “We think it’s just a roll,” Sagnelli said. “[Eline] is a very diligent worker. She’ll be in that training room working and getting, better, I have no doubt.”
Luckily for CCSU, their depth at Heijninjen’s middle position is their strongest on the team, and one Sagnelli believes will step up in the junior’s absence.
“Hopefully we get her back soon, but we are deep in that middle position,” Sagnelli said. “They’re like family, those four middles. They can come off, go on and our play stays the same. I’m proud of this middle group and I’m proud of this team.”
Heijninjen is currently second in the NEC in blocks with 10. “I’m not that worried about her rehab and think shell get right on it,” Sagnelli said. “Tomorrow, as a matter of fact, she’ll be in the training room.”
Henderson again led the way Saturday for CCSU. The outside hitter tallied 11 kills and 14 digs on the day.
The Terriers finished the day with an abysmal .051 hitting percentage. CCSU has forced an average percentage of .128 on NEC opponents, which ranks first in the conference.
“I think they’ve taken a couple of steps forward with the new coaching staff and the system they’re trying to run,” Sagnelli said on the Terriers. “It didn’t work for them today. They weren’t clicking and we were handling everything that they were showing us. I felt that both of our setters really did a great job getting the balls to our pins.”
The Blue Devils will continue conference play this week in an away showdown between in-state rival Sacred Heart. CCSU split their two games last year with the Pioneers.