Joe Gorby, Sports Information Director
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The University of St. Francis women’s volleyball team came away with a split in a pair of non-conference matches this Saturday (Oct. 17) afternoon at the Indiana Tech Triangular held at IIT’s Schaefer Center.
The Saints (1-2) posted a 3-0 opening-match triumph over Rochester (Mich.) before falling 3-1 to host Indiana Tech in its second and final match of the day.
USF 3, Rochester (Mich.) 0 — (25-17, 25-10, 25-23)
The Saints picked up their first win of the season with a three-set decision over the Warriors (0-2 overall).
The opening set was knotted up at 8-8 before the Saints outscored RU 10-4 to take an 18-12 advantage after outside hitter Desiree Anderson (FR/Joliet, Ill.)‘s kill. USF would then score five of the next seven points to lead 24-15 and after two consecutive Warrior points made it 24-17, a RU service error provided the Saints with the set point.
The Saints turned in their best offensive performance of the match in set two by hitting for a .433 percentage with 15 kills on 30 attempts while on the defensive side, USF held the Warriors to a -.030 efficiency mark with only seven kills in 33 attacks. A 10-0 Saints’ run to start the set proved to large a deficit for RU to overcome as USF would take a 15-5 lead and then a 20-9 advantage. The Saints would proceed to score three straight points (23-9) and a solo block by middle hitter Lauren Stefanski(SR/Plainfield, Ill.) after a Desiree Anderson kill secured the win.
In the final set, both teams battled each other as evidenced by seven tied scores and three lead changes. Both teams were deadlocked at 9-9 before RU outscored USF 7-1 to go up 16-10. However, the Saints managed to erase their deficit thanks to a 10-4 scoring run to pull into a 20-all tie as a result of outside hitter Peyton Baird(SO/Mendota, Ill.)’s kill. With momentum on its side, USF would net the next three points to lead 23-20 before the Warriors answered with two points in a row to close to within 23-22. Outside hitter Stephanie Woods (JR/Westchester, Ill.)’ kill on a set from setter Hannah Pacheco (SO/Lockport, Ill.) moved the Saints to match point (24-22), but a USF attack miscue gave RU the point to narrow USF’s margin to 24-23. But, the Pacheco-Woods combination would connect again as Woods hammered the kill off a Pacheco set for the match winner.
Lauren Stefanski led the way for USF with a match-high 10 kills while Peyton Baird and Stephanie Woods, who recorded a .538 hitting percentage (8-13) each totaled eight kills. Desiree Anderson, who hit for a .429 percentage, chipped in with seven kills on 14 attempts, as the Saints finished the match hitting for .333 percent compared to RU’s .090 percentage. USF doubled up the RU in team kills (44-22) while also claiming the advantage in assists (38-19), digs (49-38), and team blocks (8.0 to 1.0). Setters Hannah Pacheco and Alexis Engst(JR/Bloomington, Ill.) each produced 15 assists. The Saints received a match-best 17 digs from defensive specialist Katie Szakacs(SR/Munster, Ind.) and outside hitter Taylor Valant (SR/St. Anne, Ill.) added six total. In blocking, Lauren Stefanski led all players with three block solos with four block assists and outside-middle hitter Brooklyn Withey (SR/Lapeer, Mich.) provided one block solo coupled with two block assists.
Indiana Tech 3, USF 1 — (19-25, 33-31, 25-21, 25-20)
USF started off the match on a high note, winning the opening set as the Saints registered a .267 attack percentage while limiting Indiana Tech (5-1) to .067 percent in set one. The Saints overcame a 10-6 deficit by outscoring the Warriors 13-4 to lead 19-14. IIT narrowed the gap to two points (20-18), but was unable to get any closer as USF accounted for five of the set’s final six points.
Set two, which consisted of eight lead changes, was an exciting one as indicated by the score. Indiana Tech was on the verge of winning set at 25-24, but a Brooklyn Withey kill evened the score at 25-all. USF then had its opportunity to win on the next five occasions, but unfortunately couldn’t tally the set-winning point. A Warrior attack error tied the set up at 31-apiece before the host team registered back-to-back kills to garner the win and even the match.
A match-high 13 ties and six lead changes highlighted the third set. The set was even at 19 before IIT seized the lead with two unanswered point to lead 21-19. A kill by Brooklyn Withey cut the margin to a point (21-20) before the Warriors reeled off three straight points to take a 24-20 lead. The teams exchanged a kill apiece to account for the set’s final two points.
The fourth and final set saw USF jump out to a 12-9 advantage before Indiana Tech erased the deficit three times, including tying the set at 17-all. IIT proceeded to break the tie with three consecutive points and take a 20-17 lead, which the Warriors would never relinquish. The Saints managed to pull within 20-19 after picking up the next two points only to have the Warriors score four in a row to lead 24-19. A kill byCalista Helinski accounted for Indiana Tech’s match-clinching point.
Paving the way for USF offensively was Lauren Stefanski with a match-best 14 kills. She was joined in double-figure kills by Taylor Valantand Brooklyn Withey with 11 apiece as the Saints edged Indiana Tech in kills by a 51-46 margin. Desiree Anderson contributed eight kills.
Directing the USF offense was Hannah Pacheco and Alexis Engst with 18 and 17 assists, respectively. Katie Szakacs totaled 17 digs and defensive specialist Gabby Paelmo (JR/Schaumburg, Ill.) had 10 digs. The Saints, who had nine team blocks, received four block assists from Stephanie Woods and three from Desiree Anderson while Peyton Baird supplied two block assists along with a block solo.
USF is scheduled to be idle until the 2021 New Year when the Saints resume action on the court Jan. 28 hosting the Indiana South Bend Titans in their Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) opener. Opening serve is slated for 7 p.m. (CT) at USF’s Sullivan Center in Joliet, Ill.