Volleyball wins first two Big East matches
The Seton Hall volleyball team opened Big East play this weekend with two victories at home, extending their winning streak to ten matches, the longest in program history. The two wins bring the Pirates record to 13-1 (2-0 Big East).
Coming in to the game against the University of South Florida on Sunday, Yaeger said the game plan was to stop the Bulls strong right side. This seemed to have worked for the Pirates who won the match 3-1 (25-20, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22).
Seton Hall was led by sophomore Simona Sekulova who recorded a career-high 13 kills and freshman Amanda Hansen who also notched a career-high 12 kills.
In the first set, a big kill by Sekulova sparked a 6-1 run for the Pirates, giving them an 11-7 lead. USF caught up and cut the deficit to 13-12, but another 6-1 Pirate run S widened the gap to 18-14.
The Pirates took the second set 25-20. The lead alternated between both teams and did not grow larger than two, until an ace by junior Alyssa Warren widened the gap.
South Florida jumped out to an early 10-5 lead in the third set, despite two service errors, but the Pirates took a 14-13 lead on freshman Molly Grammer’s kill, part of a 7-0 Pirate run, in which Hansen recorded four of her 12 kills.
South Florida regained the lead but another service error again tied the score 16-16. USF took the next four points and the Pirates needed another run to get within one point, 20-19. That was the closest it would get for the Pirates, and the Bulls took the set 25-22.
Seton Hall was dominant in early parts of the fourth set, taking an 11-3 lead. But just like the first two sets, the Pirates allowed South Florida back into the game, forcing coach Yaeger to take a time out with an 18-13 lead. That lead would continue to shrink until the game was tied 22-22. The final three points were scored by Seton Hall on the strength of two kills by Hansen and another by Sekulova.
This pattern of taking the lead and letting the other team back into the game is not one that the Pirates have seen too much of this season. Yaeger said she felt that the team would get too comfortable with their lead and start to get complacent.
Yaeger said the freshman’s play helped the team gain the four-set victory.
“That’s what really worked, she was wonderful,” Yaeger said. “We like to use our pin hitters but we really wanted to work our middles more and (Hansen) was great in the middle.”
Hansen said she could not take all the credit for the win, but the team as a whole deserves the credit.
“We have talent spread out around the whole court and we all just work hard and focus,” Hansen said. “If we keep up this energy we’ll keep winning.”
The Pirates defeated Pittsburgh (9-6, 0-1) on Saturday 3-1 (25-15, 18-25, 25-19, 25-20). This win was their ninth straight, the longest in program history before the victory on Sunday.
SHU was led by twin sophomores Shelbey and Stacey Manthorpe. Shelbey Manthorpe recorded her fifth triple-double of the season, with 12 kills, 16 digs and 34 assists. Stacey Manthorpe had her eighth double-double on the year, with a team-leading 13 kills and 17 digs.
Head coach Allison Yaeger said she has been proud of the way both of the Manthorpe sisters have been playing all season.
“They’re just our leaders on the court,” Yaeger said. “We look to them, especially Stacey for a lot of points. “They work so hard and they work through injuries and they’ve been great all year.”
Seton Hall never trailed in the first set and when the score was tied at 13, the Pirates ended on a 12-2 run and closed it out 25-15. Pittsburgh reversed the tide in the second set and assured their dominance, by taking the lead and never giving it up. The Panther’s ended the second set 25-18, the final point coming on an error by Stacey Manthorpe.
The teams traded points in the early part of the third set. With the score tied at 12, the Pirates began to make a couple of runs, going up 17-13 and eventually cruising to a 25-19 win in the set. The fourth set brought seven tie scores and five lead changes. The two teams alternated scoring and with the Seton Hall lead at 18-17, the Pirates started to pull away. The match point came on a kill by Stacey Manthorpe off an assist from her sister.
Yaeger said the key to the game was aggressive serving and good serve receiving.
“Pitt has the most amount of aces in the conference and we couldn’t let that hurt us,” Yaeger said.
The Pirates next game will be against St. Peters at 7p.m. on Tuesday in Walsh Gymnasium.
Gerard Gilberto can be reached at Gerard.Gilberto@student.shu.edu