PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Right side hitter Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) matched a season-high 18 kills, powering the University of New Hampshire volleyball team to a 3-0 victory against Providence at Alumni Hall Saturday afternoon.
UNH extends its winning streak to three games and won seven of its last eight, improving to 14-12 overall and 8-2 in America East play. Providence is now 12-16, 4-6.
New Hampshire has won its last four contests against Providence, all in straight sets.
The Wildcats remain in sole possession of first place in the conference standings with four games left in the regular season.
Thatcher also compiled a team-high .419 hitting percentage and racked up four blocks. Outside hitter Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) notched her 10th double-double of the season, posting 12 kills and 18 digs. Setter Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) coordinated the offense to a .232 hitting percentage, dishing out 39 assists and scooping seven digs. Sam Henke (Millersville, Md.), Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) and Katie Sattora (Avon, N.Y.) all reached double figures in digs, registering 13, 12 and 10 respectively.
Defensively, the Wildcats hindered the Friars to a .108 hitting percentage in the match.
The Friars seized the first point in the opening set but would never lead for the remainder of the frame. With the score leveled at three, the Wildcats would capture five of the next seven points, forcing a Providence timeout. After the stoppage, UNH would tack on three more points, opening a 12-5 advantage.
However, Providence responded with three points of their own, chipping down the Cats' lead to four. After trading the next eight points, UNH opted for a timeout with a 16-12 lead.
Coming out of the break, New Hampshire would register four straight points, taking a 20-12 lead late in the stanza. After a Friar attack error and back-to-back kills from Abby Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio), Providence used their second timeout.
The Friars tried to rally after the stoppage, tallying six of the next nine points, cutting down New Hampshire's lead to 23-18. Back-to-back kills from Brinkman and Forrest would fuel the 'Cats to take set one 25-19 and take the 1-0 lead.
Opening the second frame, the Wildcats and Friars exchanged the set's first eight points at four apiece. After UNH conceded the ensuing point, the Wildcats would notch six straight points, taking a 10-5 lead. However, Providence quickly rallied, rifling off three points to trail by two points.
UNH tried to reconstruct its lead, seizing six of the next nine points. Nevertheless, the Friars would inch back again, tallying four straight points to trail 16-15.
After a New Hampshire timeout, the Wildcats took advantage of a pair of hitting errors from Providence, leading 18-15. The Friars would bring the set to even terms at 18, registering an ace sandwiched between kills. Providence took its first lead of the set at 20-19, forcing a UNH timeout.
The Wildcats would break out of the timeout, taking the next three points, fueled by kills from Delaney Dameron (Alpharetta Ga.) and Forrest. Despite a late Friars' timeout, UNH secured the second set victory, 25-22.
New Hampshire would never trail in the third set, compiling a .349 hitting percentage on 19 kills. Thatcher registered a set-high nine kills in the frame.
UNH began the third stanza, dashing out to an 8-3 lead. The Friars and Wildcats continued to exchange points, building up the score at 16-11. New Hampshire managed to extend its lead to 20-13 late in the set, fueled by a trio of kills.
Following a Providence timeout, Thatcher capped of the third set, striking consecutive kills to earn the 25-17 set win and ensure the three set victory.
New Hampshire concludes their regular season with four games at Lundholm Gymnasium. The Wildcats look to defend their first place ranking against UMBC and Stony Brook. The match against the Retrievers is slated for Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. UNH plays host to the Seawolves on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. For more information about UNH volleyball, be sure to visit www.unhwildcats.com.