New Hampshire volleyball upends Hartford, 3-0

DURHAM, N.H. – Kim Mirts-Poen (Essex, Iowa) recorded a match-high 12 kills and led the Wildcats in both digs (six) and blocks (four) to guide the University of New Hampshire volleyball team to a 3-0 America East victory Saturday afternoon at Lundholm Gymnasium.

The game scores were 15-9, 15-9, 15-11 as UNH improved to 15-8 overall and 5-1 in the conference. Hartford is now 5-12 and 1-6 in the league.

New Hampshire started the match strong and led 6-1 through one rotation. The Hawks closed within 7-6 but the Wildcats scored six consecutive points to surge in front, 13-6. Jennifer Walker (Fulton, N.Y.; eight kills, four blocks) and Lauren Knight (Centerville, Mass.) put and end to Game 1 on an assisted block.

It took just eight minutes for the ‘Cats to dispatch Hartford in Game 2. UNH jumped out to a 4-0 lead on the service of Stacy Barnett (Crystal Lake, Ill.; 21 assists) and extended it to 5-0. The Hawks rallied to tie the game behind solid serving by Christine Thurston, who registered two of her four aces during the run. The visitors also scored the next four points to build a 9-5 advantage. Jillian Ross (Naperville, Ill.) recorded four service aces, including one to end the game, and the hitting duo of Mirts-Poen and Walker combined for three consecutive blocks as UNH closed the second game with 10 straight points.

In Game 3, Hartford took an early 3-1 lead only to surrender seven unanswered points to fall behind 8-3. The Hawks trimmed the deficit to within 9-7 and fought off four match points before succumbing on a setting error.

Katie Jentes (Madbury, N.H.) had a solid all-around day for the ‘Cats with seven kills, a career-high six assists, four digs and three blocks. Hartford was led by Kristy Rufner (seven kills) and Meryll Pentz (six kills, match-high seven digs). Saralyn Smith contributed four blocks and Kelly McEathron finished with 18 assists.

The UNH volleyball team returns to action October 22 against America East rival Hofstra University. Match time for "Pack the Arena Day" at Lundholm Gymnasium is 1 p.m.

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