BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Senior Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) tallied a match-high 18 kills to lead the University of New Hampshire volleyball team past Lehigh, 3-2, in the opening day of the Lehigh Classic Friday evening at Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. The set scores were 21-25, 28-26, 25-21, 27-29 and 15-10.
New Hampshire (1-0, 0-0 America East) wins its first contest of the season and second consecutive season opener. Lehigh (0-1, 0-0 Patriot) loses their home opener in the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) registered a career-high nine solo blocks while chipping in nine kills in the win. Thatcher also contributed eight digs and four blocks. Sophomore Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) recorded her second career double-double, posting 14 kills and 12 digs. Junior Taylor Dunklau (Mukowonago, Wis.) orchestrated the offense, dishing out a match-high 55 assists.
After exchanging the first three points, the Mountain Hawks strung together six straight points to lead 7-3 in the first set. A combined effort by Thatcher Tolliver and Katie Sattora (Avon, N.Y.) put UNH within one. Tolliver gave the Wildcats their first lead of the match at 16-15 on a solo block. However, Lehigh battled back, scoring six unanswered points to take the first set 25-21.
In the second stanza, the Wildcats jumped out to a 7-3 lead, capitalizing on Lehigh miscues. Despite Thatcher registering six kills in the set, New Hampshire never trailed until the Mountain Hawks led 23-24. After trading points at 26 all, another solo block by Tolliver leveled the match score for the Wildcats one all, taking the set 28-26.
The third set was highlighted by Abby Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio) and Forrest. After trailing 12-16, the Wildcats strung together seven unanswered points, en route to a 25-21 set win. The duo of outside hitters tallied six kills and five kills respectively, giving New Hampshire a 2-1 match lead.
In the fourth set, Lehigh and New Hampshire had five lead changes before the teams were even at 24 apiece. The Wildcats and Mountain Hawks exchanged three more points at 27 all, before a New Hampshire error and Lehigh ace pushed the match to a fifth set.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the final set and never looked back. Forrest led New Hampshire in the final stanza with three kills, providing UNH with the deciding 15-10 set win and the five-match victory.
New Hampshire will conclude play at the Lehigh Classic on Saturday with a pair of matches against Rhode Island (10:00 a.m.) and Saint Peter's (3 p.m.).