DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team increases its winning streak to a season-long five games, prevailing over Stony Brook University 3-0 at Lundholm Gymnasium Sunday afternoon.
The set scores were 25-20, 25-17, 32-30.
New Hampshire earns at least a share of the America East regular season title for its first time since 2003.
UNH has yet to drop a set against an America East opponent since Oct. 20 (at the University at Albany; 0-3) as the Wildcats improved to 16-12 overall and 10-2 in America East play. Stony Brook falls to 15-15, 8-4. UNH remains alone atop the conference standings with two games remaining in the regular season.
The last time the Wildcats have defeated five conference opponents in succession and in three sets dates back to Oct. 15 through Oct. 20, 1999.
New Hampshire has topped its opponent at Lundholm Gymnasium six consecutive times, winning 18-straight sets.
UNH was paced by double-digit kill efforts from outside hitter Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) and right side hitter Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.), posting 14 and 13 respectively. Setter Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) orchestrated the Wildcats' attack to a .190 hitting percentage to tally 40 assists.
Three different UNH players recorded double-digit dig efforts to curb the Seawolves hitting percentage to .088. At the forefront of the defensive effort, defensive specialist Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) tallied 20 digs followed by Sam Henke (Millersville, Md., 16) and Katie Sattora (Avon, N.Y., 10).
The Wildcats were able to capture set one on the strength of 16 kills and a pair of blocks. Thatcher registered four kills in the stanza while Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) and Forrest each had three. With the set score deadlocked at 13, New Hampshire generated five straight points capped off by back-to-back kills from Forrest. The Seawolves crept back into the match, taking advantage of four offensive miscues from the 'Cats. However, UNH capped off the first set 25-21, fueled by a quartet of kills.
New Hampshire registered its highest hitting percentage in the second stanza, constructing a .293 clip. Forrest and Thatcher each provided five of the 15 Wildcat kills in the set.
The Seawolves held a slight 11-10 as UNH responded with a trio of kills, forcing SBU to call a timeout. The stoppage did not phase the Wildcats as the home team constructed a 5-2 run to lead 19-12. Tolliver and Forrest powered the offense to close out set two by a score of 25-17.
The third stanza took a season-high 32-point effort and 10 lead changes for the Wildcats to cap off the three-set sweep. New Hampshire compiled 19 kills and six blocks in the frame. Forrest tallied six kills while Dunklau racked up four blocks, both set-highs.
Stony Brook looked to extend the match, holding a 13-7 advantage in the third set. New Hampshire quickly rallied, capturing eight of the next 10 points to compel the Seawolves to use a timeout. Coming out of the break, Stephanie McFadden sparked the Seawolves to three straight points to recapture the lead for SBU. Trailing 18-15, Demi Muses (Orangevale, Calif.) was able to rally the Wildcats to record a kill sandwiched by two block assists to tie the set score. Both sides would continue to exchange points as the score stood at 23 all.
After a New Hampshire timeout, a Forrest kill forced Stony Brook into match point. However, the Seawolves were able to fend off a pair of match points and recapture the lead at 26-25, to possibly force a fourth game. Despite the Seawolves effort, Morgan Thatcher leveled the score again on a kill at 26-26. New Hampshire captured the following point to put Seawolves in match point for the third time in the frame. Melissa Rigo powered SBU to fight off two more match points with kills, tying the score at 28. Stony Brook was able to turn the tables and put UNH at set point for a second time. New Hampshire ensued with a kill from Thatcher. Following a Muses' kill and a UNH service error, the fourth Muses kill brought SBU to a must-win situation. Dunklau and Muses recorded the decisive block to capture the three-set sweep.
UNH can capture home-court advantage in the America East Championships with a win on Friday, Nov. 15 (7 p.m.), hosting Albany. New Hampshire will close out the regular season on Senior Day, welcoming Binghamton University on Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. To stay informed about UNH volleyball, be sure to visit UNHWildcats.com.