Volleyball Punches Ticket To Postseason In Final Game

Ryan Jones, Sports Editor

“We just knew we had to win it,” senior Morgan Woycik said.

After a loss to Sacred Heart Wednesday, Bryant was a must-win game, and win it they did.

Both teams were hungry for a win Friday, which was showcased by a constant battle for a lead. The Blue Devils and Bulldogs exchanged leads 21 times in the four set duel.

Bryant was able to pull away in the first set with a 23-20 lead, but were unable to close out efficiently, allowing three straight from CCSU. The Bulldogs took a timeout following the tie, and snapped back into things with a three point run of their own to steal the first.

Central would not be outdone for the remainder of the match.

The second set started off as cagey as the last, but a late four point run put helped secure a 25-20 second set win. Senior Mackenzie Dobbins served on the run and was used as CCSU’s serving specialist for most of the match.

The mental toughness from Central proved to a difference maker in the match. Despite facing six-point deficits at times, the Blue Devils never hung their heads, according to head coach Linda Sagnelli.

“When we lost a point, we just let that roll of our shoulders and played on,” Sagnelli said. “That’s exactly what you have to do. If Bryant got a two or three point lead, they were like ‘we got it coach,’ and I said ‘okay, I know you do, now go do it.'”

Junior Emma Henderson broke a 22-22 stalemate in the third to put Central up 2-1, but the match was far from over.

Refusing to go down without a fight, the Bulldogs went back and forth for the entirety of the final set. Neither team led by more than three, with one final block from Woycik and freshman Isabelle Roufs sealed the 3-1 victory for the Blue Devils.

“[The team] came to play tonight,” Sagnelli said after the match. “This was one of the best volleyball matches that we’ve played all year, and our seniors killed it.”

One senior in particular had an especially impressive day on the court.

Madelyn Kaprelyan has been an x-factor for the Blue Devils in her four years on the team. The reigning NEC Player of the Year (the only Blue Devil to earn that title in program history) has continued her dominance in her final year at Central Connecticut. In her final game on her home court, Kaprelyan posted a familiar triple double, combining for 18 kills, 26 assists and 17 digs.

“We literally put our hearts into that,” Kaprelyan said.

Defeating Bryant was just the first in a series of events that needed to transpire for CCSU to make the postseason. After getting jumped in the standings by LIU, CCSU needed a win over Bryant Friday night, then needed Bryant to lose again the next night out when the Bulldogs took on Sacred Heart, which they did.

The Blue Devils finish the regular season with a 10-6 record that locks them in for the fourth and final playoff spot. CCSU will take on the host of the NEC Tournament, 15-1 Robert Morris, Friday. When the Blue Devils lost to RMU last week, it was the first time the Colonials were forced to five sets by an opponent.

“It’s a new season again,” Sagnelli said on the upcoming tournament. “It all starts over now.”

Thought Robert Morris has only one loss in the conference this season and has dominated in their 15 wins, the Blue Devils will not be shying away from the competition.

“We’ve got to play like that,” Kaprelyan said. “When we play as a team and put our heart into it, no one can beat us.”