Seton Hall women’s volleyball earned its first Big East win of the season in euphoric fashion, getting by Butler three sets to two in five heavily contested sets on Friday night. The win improves the Pirates’ record to 7-8.
All the spectators in Walsh Gymnasium were on their feet as the sophomore connection of Sophia Coffey and Cherise Hennigan linked up for one final time as Hennigan smashed her 24th kill, giving Coffey her 43rd assist, and the Pirates their seventh win on the season.
“They’re [Coffey and Hennigan] getting better and better as every single practice goes on,” head coach Allison Yaeger said. “They’re very young, only sophomores, they’ve only been in this league for a year so far, and they’re getting better and better.
“Cherise is awesome. She does a really nice job using the blocks. So if we’re playing a team that has big blockers, she does a good job putting the ball away. And Sophia does a really nice job distributing the ball as long as we’re in system, like we were for most of the night,” Yaeger said.
The crowd was loud and energetic from the get-go, with fellow athletic teams in the stands cheering them on. Seton Hall used that energy and got ahead of Butler, winning the first set 25-18.
Butler came right back though, winning a tight second set 25-21. Although it could have been by a lot more, as the Bulldogs jumped out to a nine-point lead early in the set, only to have the Pirates show their resiliency and claw their way back to within three before ultimately falling short.
The script of early dominance by one end followed by a spirited rally courtesy of the other continued for every set for the rest of the match. In the third set it was the Pirates who jumped out to an eight-point lead, only to see it fall to three before holding on 25-22.
Then it was Butler’s turn, getting out to an early nine-point lead in the fourth set before the Pirates cut it down to four. Once again, though, the team that jumped in front would hold on, and the two sides played a decisive fifth set.
In the fifth set, it was Butler who took the 9-6 advantage, with the Pirates very much on thin ice, down three without the serve.
Tessa Fournier turned the tide of the match however with her acrobatic dig which saved a point and helped the Pirates pull within two. The Pirates would then pull even after two long rallies, and take a lead they would never relinquish, winning the set 15-13.
“It’s huge, I mean it’s really big,” Yaeger. “Butler is a great team, I mean everybody’s good. And in the Big East, anybody can beat anybody on any given day, we always say that. So as many wins as you can get under your belt, it’s only going to help you later on.”
The Pirates (7-8) will be back in action tomorrow night, once again in Walsh Gymnasium, as they welcome another Big East foe in Xavier (7-7) at 7 p.m.
“We celebrate this for the next ten minutes, and we move on to Xavier,” Yaeger said. “It’s just how it’s got to be. Xavier is an amazing team. They have seniority and they’ve got good, good hitters. We’re just going to have to try to play point for point with them, and hope that our defense, blocking, and offense can continue.”
James Justice can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MLSTakeover.