WEST POINT, N.Y. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team split a pair of matches capturing a 3-1 win over St. John's University in the season opener before losing to the host Black Knights 3-0 in the first day of competition at the Army Invitational.
The set scores against St. John's were 15-25, 25-22, 29-27 and 25-19, while set scores against Army were 25-20, 25-22 and 25-22.
In the St. John's match, Lauren Laquerre (Concord, N.H.) led three Wildcats in double-figure kills with 20 and hit at a .235 clip. Taylor Dressing (Gillette, N.J.) and Amy Keding (Northbrook, Ill.) each added 12 kills. The pair combined for seven blocks as Dressing recorded four and Keding three. Jessy Dick (Lethbridge, Alberta) registered a match-high seven blocks. Defensively, Jayde Huxtable (St. Charles, Ill.) tallied a team-high 19 digs, while Jessie Schnepp (East Longmeadow, Mass.) added 10 digs. Senior setter Sara Heldman (Greenwood, Ind.) paced the Wildcat offense with 49 assists. Play was even early on in the first set, St. John's held a 9-7 lead before an 11-3 run gave the Red Storm an 18-10 edge. UNH was able to cut it to 23-17, but would get no closer. The Wildcats used their late momentum in the first set to build a 7-2 edge out of the gate in the second set. St. John's chipped away at the lead cutting it to 15-12. The Red Storm would get to within one at 19-18 and eventually tied the set at 21-21. The 'Cats responded with three-straight points and earned the 25-22 win. The third set was all St. John's early on as it went out to a 14-9 edge. The Red Storm maintained its lead holding margins of 17-11 and 22-16 before a UNH timeout. The team responded out of the break with 9-2 surge that gave UNH its first lead of the set at 25-24. The foes traded points until, with the game tied 27-27, Keding helped secure the set with a kill to make it 28-27 and a service ace to end it. New Hampshire left little doubt in the fourth and decisive set. The 'Cats went out to a 9-3 lead, extended the lead to 16-9 and 21-16 and went on to earn the six-point set victory and a 3-1 win in the match. After a poor hitting percentage in the first set, UNH recorded double-digit kills in each of the final three sets and percentages of .312, .286 and .289 in those sets, respectively.
Against Army, Laquerre posted a team-high 13 kill, while Keding added seven kills and three blocks. Dick notched a team-high four blocks, while defensively Huxtable once again led the way with 11 digs. Heldman dished out a team-high 26 assists during the match. Play was even early on as the game was deadlocked at 10-10 before the Black Knights went up by four at 17-13. The Wildcats cut it to 17-16, but a 6-2 run gave Army a safe cushion in the first set. In the next set, the Black Knights held a 10-6 edge until seven-straight New Hampshire points made it 13-10. Army responded with a 6-1 run that made it 16-14. Trailing 22-17, UNH used a 5-1 run of its own to make it 23-22, but would get no closer. The final set was a back-and-forth affair throughout with no team leading by more than two until Army grabbed a three-point advantage at 23-20. The 'Cats would tally the next two points to make it 23-22, but the Black Knights scored the final two points to capture the set and the match.
UNH returns to action when it concludes play at the Army Invitational on Saturday against Fairleigh Dickinson at 3 p.m. The 'Cats open the home portion of their 2010 schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 7 (7 p.m.) against non-conference foe Northeastern. Tickets to the home opener and all UNH home matches are online at www.UNHWildcats.com.