Kings Point, NY – The USMMA volleyball team defeated NJCU, 3-0, Tuesday night, marking the final match of the year inside O'Hara Hall. The Merchant Marine defense, anchored by the match high 24 digs of Michelle Danhof (San Antonio, TX), racked up six blocks and held the Gothic Knights to a .019 hitting percentage. Caitlin McCabe (Edgewood, NM) supplied a match high seven kills in the victory.
Merchant Marine (12-13) jumped out to a 9-2 advantage in the opening set behind a seven point surge that included four service aces from Kelly Hodges (Lakewood, CO). The Gothic Knights would rally back to knot the score at 9-9 but the Mariners earned seven of the next eight points to reopen a comfortable lead. Charlene Swick (Incline Village, NV) hammered home one of her six kills of the match to give USMMA the set, 25-20.
NJCU (7-16) struggled in the second set, committing eight hitting errors while the Mariners totaled 11 kills in the game. Cassandra Palma (Loomis, CA) led the charge in the middle set with four kills and four digs. Riley Huelbig (Poolesville, MD) dished out nine of her 20 assists of the match in a frame that USMMA would take, 25-19.
The Mariners rallied out of a 5-1 hole in the third set and engineered an 11-1 run that opened up an 18-8 gap for the home team. Freshman Rachel Smith (Broomfield, CO) ended the night with a kill on match point as Merchant Marine won the set, 25-14, and the match, 3-0. Candice Dunagan (Hamilton, MT) came off the bench and posted three kills on the night.
The USMMA volleyball team will wrap up the 2012 season this weekend with four matches at the Cougar Classic. If they can win at least three matches the Mariners can finish with a record above .500 for the first time since joining the Landmark Conference in 2007.