|Caileigh Cox||Jillian Graham||Carah Vitkus|
|Eryn Boken||Kristin Bush||Kindler Norman|
SCRANTON - In the first match of her collegiate career, freshman Caileigh Cox (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) had a team-high 10 kills, as The University of Scranton volleyball team gutted out a 3-1 win over New Paltz to open both their 2019 season and the annual Scranton Invitational inside the John Long Center on Friday evening (25-19, 22-25, 25-18, 25-23).
In the season-opening win, Scranton (1-0) got off to a good start in the first set, opening a 21-15 lead late in the opening frame to roll to an eventual six-point win. But, in the second set, New Paltz (0-1) fought back, scoring four of the final five points of the game to break open a 21-21 tie and turn it into a four-point win to even the match up at 1-1.
But, the third set saw Scranton once again take control late to go back up in the match, two games to one, as the Royals went on a big run late to open an insurmountable 23-15 lead on the visiting Hawks.
In the fourth and what turned out to be deciding set, New Paltz got off to about as good of a start as they could've imagined, opening a 6-0 lead right out of the gate. Scranton, however, clawed their way back in the match, scoring five straight points to make it a 6-5 game early.
The middle of the game saw Scranton take control, as the Royals would open a 20-15 lead with their sights set on ending the match. But, New Paltz bounced back, as a 6-1 run tied the match up at 21-all.
Here, the Royals scored back-to-back points to go up 23-21. After a New Paltz point, a block-assist by junior Jillian Graham (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh) and sophomore Eryn Boken (South Pasadena, Calif./Westridge School for Girls) put the Royals on the cusp of a win, up 24-22. However, the Royals made an error on the next serve, giving New Paltz new life.
But, on the final point of the match, New Paltz made a critical error, giving the Royals a 25-23 match-clinching victory in the set.
Overall in the win for Scranton, Cox led a balanced attack with 10 kills on 22 attempts (.273 hitting percentage). Meanwhile, Graham kicked off her junior season connecting on nine kills
Elsewhere, freshman Carah Vitkus (Mahopac, N.Y./Mahopac) finished with eight kills and three digs, and Boken ended with seven kills, four service aces, three total blocks (one solo). Senior Kristin Bush (Cortland, N.Y./Cortland) ended the night with a game-high 11 digs, and junior Kindler Norman (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) set up the offense all game with 30 assists (to go along with eight digs.).
New Paltz was led in a losing effort by Maddie Van Pelt, who had a game-high 12 kills.
Action at the 2019 Scranton Invitational concludes tomorrow, as Scranton takes on RIT (11 a.m.) and Coast Guard (5 p.m.). In the nightcap of Friday's invitational action, RIT captured a 3-0 win over Coast Guard.
For more on the 2019 Scranton Invitational, click here.