NEWARK, N.J. (Sept. 1, 2017) – The USMMA women's volleyball team rallied from down 2-1 in the match and 18-12 in the fourth set to come back and defeat Rutgers-Newark, 3-2, on the road on Friday night in the 2017 season-opener.
The match was close throughout, as the Mariners won the first set, 25-22, and were a point away from winning both the second and third sets, but the Scarlet Raiders rallied to take a 27-25 win in the second and a 26-24 triumph in the third to go up 2-1 in the match.
The Mariners answered with a 25-20 victory in the fourth to even up the match at 2-2 and force a decisive fifth set. In the fifth, Merchant Marine jumped out to an early lead and extended it to a 9-4 advantage before Rutgers started chipping away at the lead. The Mariners were able to hold off the rally and took the fifth set, 15-9.
Three different Mariners recorded double-doubles on the night, as junior Kate Lefler (Norman, Okla.) tied for the match-high with 14 kills while also picking up 15 digs, senior Dominique Pope (Silver Spring, Md.) had 13 kills and 14 digs and sophomore Kyleigh Kappas (Parker, Colo.) led all players with 42 assists to go along with 15 digs.
A total of six players registered double-digit digs for USMMA, as senior Myckenzie Toler (Prunedale, Calif.) tallied a team-high 24 in her first collegiate match, while classmates Kayla Gleason (Sound Beach, N.Y.) had 19 and Alex Miller (Stevensville, Mich.) recorded 17 (also in her first collegiate action). In the middle, senior Tichina Carmon (Greenville, N.C.) notched a match-high five blocks on the night.
Rutgers-Newark was led offensively by sophomore Comfort Akinbo, who tied for the match-high with 14 kills, while junior Cassie Luken added 10 kills. Freshman setter Karly Gregoire recorded a double-double with 32 assists and 14 digs and senior libero Sue Riley picked up an amazing 49 digs over the five sets, with classmate Morgan Schweitzer adding 20 digs defensively.
The Mariners return to action on Monday night, Sept. 4, for a Labor Day home-opener against Pratt beginning at 7 p.m. at the Liebertz Gymnasium. Live stats and a live video feed of the match will be available with links on the USMMA Volleyball Schedule Page.
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