By Staff Writer Thomas Griffin.
Saturday’s women’s volleyball game between the UMassD Corsairs and the Worcester State Lancers saw an out-of-conference matchup between two remarkably different teams.
The Corsairs, standing at a meager 7-11 on the season, have not had much luck in their Little East conference so far this year, going 1-5 against in-conference opponents. Instead, they’ve had more luck playing against teams in matches without conference stakes. Worcester State looked to be their next success.
The Lancers are the defending MASCAC champions among powerhouse teams such as the Fitchburg State Falcons and the Westfield State Owls. Having lost seniors from their previous championship run and strolling into this matchup at a comparably pedestrian 12-7, the Lancers look to be in prime shape to take a loss from the Corsairs.
Saturday’s first set opened to an early Lancer 8-3 lead. The key to most of Worcester State’s success throughout the evening was blocking, with many impressive UMassD volleys ending at the fingertips of Lancer defenders. Worcester State’s defensive play dropped Corsair hitting percentage to .043 on the night. As a result, the first set went to the Lancers in convincing fashion, 25-9.
The Corsairs didn’t want to drop this match without putting up a convincing fight. They opened the second set to a 7-1 lead though excellent ball-play, service aces, and a few timely net violations on Worcester State’s part. Firing on all cylinders, they were giving a defending champion a run for their money.
The Corsairs extended this lead to 12-4 before an unfortunate net ended their runaway scoring streak. This net call marked a shift of momentum in favor of Worcester State, where the Lancer defense returned to their impenetrable ways and stifled UMassD scoring opportunities.
After tying the second set at 15-15, Worcester State began to pull away with a slight 19-16 lead.
Critical to the Lancers’ comeback were multiple service aces, as well as the Corsairs struggling to dig in response to attacks. Despite starting the set with a huge lead, the Corsairs stumbled to a 25-20 set loss.
After dropping the first two, UMassD managed to put their former losses behind them and start fresh, scoring first in the third set. Despite their strong start, the Corsairs fell into an early 7-2 deficit.
Climbing out of the third set deficit was made even more difficult by the return of Worcester State’s blocking ability. Truly impressive Corsair kills were met at the net by outstretched Lancer hands, stabbing down almost all UMassD offensive plays. Scoring attempts came up fruitless as the Lancers climbed to a 20-7 lead.
A late Corsair scoring streak drove the score-line to a 23-18 Lancer lead, turning a landslide of a final set into a winnable bout. Fighting back to cut down Worcester State’s lead, a late UMassD serve soared out of bounds, putting the lancers on match point. One point in Worcester State’s favor later, and the Corsairs walked away with a 3-0 devastating loss.
There are positive takeaways from the Corsairs’ loss to Worcester State. Junior Samantha Sedano played a standout game, leading the team in kills with 9, including three service aces. The scores didn’t reflect the statistics of the match, where the Corsairs nearly matched the Lancers in blocks (4.0 as opposed to 6.0), digs (36 to 42), and total service aces (6 to 7). Against a current conference title-holder, UMassD went nearly pound-for-pound and gave the defending MASAC champions a run for their money in an impressive showing.
For the Corsairs, their season continues with an upcoming match against Emmanuel on this coming Thursday, October 18.
PHOTO COURTESY: CORSAIR ATHLETICS