HOBOKEN, N.J. – After dropping a tough, five-set Landmark Conference match at Susquehanna on Wednesday, The University of Scranton volleyball team bounced back in impressive fashion on Friday, winning a pair of five-set contests to open the Stevens Invitational.
The Royals (16-12) began the day with a 3-2 win over host Stevens, which is receiving votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) national top-25 poll, before snapping Stockton's 14-match win streak with a marathon five-set triumph in the nightcap.
Match 1 vs. Stevens
Scranton got off to a strong start on Friday, winning the first two sets against host Stevens before the Ducks rallied with a pair of set wins to set up the Royals' second straight five-set match. Despite the momentum going against them and in the gym of one of the nation's top teams, Scranton was unfazed and pulled away in the deciding set to open the tournament with a win.
In the opening set against Stevens (18-5), Scranton pulled away for a 25-20 victory before building a two-games-to-none advantage by holding of the Ducks for a 25-23 set win. The hosts forced a deciding fifth set with wins of 25-21 and 25-13, but the Royals scored nine of the final 12 points in the fifth set to claim the match with a 15-9 victory.
Senior Kristin Kirwan (Park Ridge, N.J./Immaculate Heart Academy) powered Scranton's attack with a match-high 20 kills to go along with 12 digs while freshman Eryn Boken (South Pasadena, Calif./Westridge School for Girls) added 10 kills for the Royals.
Senior Megan Monastra (West Chester, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) contributed nine kills and four aces while pacing Scranton defensively with a career-high 23 digs.
Sophomore Kristin Bush (Cortland, N.Y./Cortland) led all players with a career-high five aces in the match while classmate Kindler Norman (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) dished out a match-leading 40 assists for the Royals.
As a team, Scranton posted a .121 hitting percentage while serving 13 aces and collecting 74 digs. Stevens hit .164 in the match and was credited with 79 digs and eight aces in the loss.
Match 2 vs. Stockton
Scranton's second match of the evening was much like the first one as the Royals took a 2-0 lead only to see Stockton (21-5) win the next two sets. Playing its third straight five-set match and eighth on the season, Scranton fought past the Ospreys in an extended fifth set, 18-16.
The Royals went ahead with a 25-22 win in the opening set before battling to their second two-games-to-none advantage of the day with a 26-24 triumph in the second set.
Stockton countered with a 25-19 win in the third set and forced Scranton into its third straight five-set match with a 25-22 decision in game four.
In a tightly contested fifth set, the Royals had three cracks at match point before claiming their second win of the day on a Stockton attack error.
Kirwan and Boken again paced Scranton's attack with Kirwan putting down a match-high 23 kills and Boken adding 12 kills to go along with three blocks and three aces.
Monastra contributed nine kills, 12 digs, and three aces, sophomore Jillian Graham (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh) totaled eight kills, and Manning added seven kills for the Royals.
Sophomore Kyra Bevenour (Sicklerville, N.J./Washington Township) put up a career-high 52 assists to go along with 15 digs while Schetroma picked up a season and match-high 25 digs.
Scranton logged a .173 hitting percentage in the match and totaled 75 digs and eight aces while Stockton hit .189 and had 89 digs and nine aces in the loss to the Royals.
Both teams committed 28 attack errors apiece in the match.
Scranton will play two more matches on Saturday at the Stevens Invitational, taking on No. 18 Ithaca at noon before rounding out the tournament against Haverford at 4 p.m. Saturday's matches were pushed back an hour due to Friday's match schedule running late.