DURHAM, N.H. - Senior outside hitter Alyson Coler (Monte Sereno, Calif.) recorded a match-high 14 kills to lead the University of New Hampshire women's volleyball team to Saturday night's 3-0 America East victory against the University at Albany in the regular-season finale at Lundholm Gymnasium. The game scores were 30-25, 30-22 and 30-28.
UNH, which has won nine consecutive home matches this season and 20 in a row at home vs. conference opponents, improved to 21-11 overall and 11-2 in America East action with its fifth straight win. The Wildcats won the regular-season title to earn the No. 1 seed and host the America East Championships on Nov. 21-22. Albany is now 24-9, 9-5.
New Hampshire and Albany will meet again in the 7 p.m. semifinal on Friday, Nov. 21 while Northeastern University will face Stony Brook University in the four o'clock semifinal. UNH won both meetings vs. Albany this season and is 7-0 lifetime vs. the Great Danes.
In addition to Coler, Erin Walker (Fulton, N.Y.) finished in double digits in kills with 10. Senior setter Anne Davis (Groveland, Ill.) recorded a match-high 34 assists and also contributed defensively with 11 digs. Senior libero Sasha Scott (N. Branford, Conn.) registered a match-high 13 digs in a strong team defensive effort that included seven blocks by Karen Harrington (Windham, N.H.) and five blocks from Natasha Otte (Plymouth, N.H.). Senior Erin Ludwig (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) had a solid match with eight kills and a .429 hitting percentage.
The Great Danes were led by Eileen Nicole Rodriguez, who led the squad in both kills (10) and digs (10). Blair Buchanan had 24 assists.
Trailing 7-6 in Game 1, UNH won seven consecutive points to take a 13-7 lead and the 'Cats kept the Great Danes at arm's length the rest of the way.
Albany raced out to a 7-2 lead in Game 2 and held a 13-10 advantage before the Wildcats won eight of nine points to go in front, 18-14. New Hampshire led 25-22 and closed out the game with five consecutive points to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
In Game 3, neither team led by more than three points until the 'Cats took a 22-18 lead. Albany rallied to take a 23-22 advantage and held a 26-24 lead until Coler sparked a 5-0 Wildcat rally that pushed UNH to match point, 29-26. Albany fought off a pair of match points before a hitting error gave New Hampshire the victory.
With 10 digs in the match, Coler moved to within 10 of breaking UNH's career record of 1,207 digs held by Jillian Ross.
The UNH volleyball program gave recognition to the six-member Class of 2003 prior to the match. In addition to Coler, Davis, Ludwig and Scott, Chelsea Hammer (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Lyndsey Stults (Fort Wayne, Ind.) made their final regular-season home appearance.