Seton Hall volleyball opened its season this weekend at the Blue and White Classic hosted by the University of Buffalo, going 2-1 on the weekend with strong performances from veterans Abby Thelen and Caitlin Koska.
In the first game of the weekend, the Pirates faced North Dakota State University. The Hall was never able to grab a lead in the first set, as North Dakota scored five straight points to open a 14-7 lead. The Pirates attempted to make a comeback as they cut the deficit to five, but ultimately lost the first set 25-20.
In set two, the Pirates came back with a vengeance, including leading 20-7 at one point. The set proved to be a victory, which was led by defense. The third set featured nine lead changes, but the Pirates were able to pull off a 27-25 win as a kill by Koska ended the set. The fourth set also ended in Seton Hall’s favor, giving the team its first win of the 2018 season.
Thelen had a match-high of 18 kills to go along with seven digs and two blocks. Koska had 14 kills and nine blocks, while Maggie Cvelbar started the season with a double-double, getting 19 assists and 11 digs. Miranda Higginbotham also added a career-high 23 digs accompanied by four aces.
In the second game, the Pirates took on tournament host Buffalo. The Pirates had won four of the previous five meetings between the teams but were unable to get the win in the sixth meeting, ultimately losing in four sets.
Seton Hall barely stole the first set, winning 27-25. Thelen and Koska continued their stellar performances with five kills apiece. Eden Dolezal had six kills in the set. The Pirates were not as lucky in the second set as Buffalo dominated and won 25-13. Koska and Thelen stayed on fire with eight kills and five digs and six kills, respectively.
In the third set, the Pirates made a comeback from a 24-20 deficit, but it wasn’t enough as they ultimately dropped the set 26-24. In a close match, Seton Hall dropped set four 25-22, suffering its first loss of the season.
In the last game of the weekend, the Pirates met with Niagara University for only the third time in history, with Seton Hall winning the first two meetings in 2002 and 2003. Seton Hall went on to win the match in three sets, as Thelen and Koska continued their strong play.
The first set proved to be an even match, but Seton Hall was able to pull off a 25-21 win. Koska and Thelen tallied three kills each.
The Pirates dominated the second set, taking a commanding 11-5 lead early on. The set proved to be quick, as Seton Hall trounced Niagara 25-11. Seton Hall had 17 kills and only two attack errors. Thelen had 11 of the 17 kills of the set. The third set followed the same tune as the Pirates won 25-15 to end the match.
Thelen ended her spectacular weekend with 14 kills and nine digs in the last set. Cvelbar also continued with her strong play, notching 19 assists and 15 digs.
The Pirates will be back in action at the Seton Hall Classic hosted in Walsh Gymnasium, beginning on Friday, August 31 at 7 p.m. against Virginia Commonwealth University.
Brittany Tomore can be reached at Brittany.firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BrittTomore.