NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – Freshman Riley James (Pocasset, Mass.) put forth one of the best all-around efforts of her young career with 14 kills, 21 digs and five blocks, but the Bryant University volleyball team was held off on the road at Central Connecticut Friday night.
Junior Alisi Motu'apuaka (Virginia Beach, Va.) and freshmen Mia Cergol (East Northport, N.Y.) and Emma McGovern (Long Beach, N.Y.) added double-doubles for the Bulldogs, who enter the final day of the regular season still in control of their own fate for the NEC tournament. A Bryant victory Saturday over Sacred Heart would get the Bulldogs into the four-team field. A Bulldog loss to the Pioneers would allow Central Connecticut to earn the final spot in the tournament.
Central Connecticut 3, Bryant 1 (26-24, 20-25, 22-25, 21-25)
Records: Bryant (15-16, 10-5), Central Connecticut (14-14, 10-6)
Location: Detrick Gymnasium (New Britain, Conn.)
Coach Garlacy's Comments
"It was a tournament-level battle tonight and I'm so proud of how we competed. Both Riley and Emma gave us double-doubles in kills and digs with Riley chipping in for three solo and two assist blocks. Erika had 20 digs, passed money, and gave us an ace. Haley had a great night hitting .304 and had three assist blocks. Maggie came in for the third set and did a great job on the right. We played a great match and lost to a very experienced CCSU team."
How it Happened
- Set 1 – The early stages of the first set offered a back-and-forth battle where neither team scored more than three in a row until McGovern's service ace put the Bulldogs up 18-13. Eventually Bryant brought the score to 24-20 but CCSU tallied the next four before two kills from sophomore Haley O'Brien (Milton, Mass.) gave the set to the Bulldogs.
- Set 2 – This set was all about runs as Bryant earned an early 10-2 run which was quickly answered by the Blue Devils' 5-0 run. Bryant led 14-12 before a 7-2 CCSU stretch gave the Blue Devils the upper hand. Bryant would get back within two twice before CCSU closed out the set at 25-20.
- Set 3 – Both teams battled hard in this set as neither team took a lead greater than two points until a Bryant attack error put the Blue Devils up 20-17. From that point, Bryant was only able to tie it up once before losing the set 25-22.
- Set 4 – Bryant led 15-14 before a 6-2 stretch for CCSU gave the Blue Devils a three-point advantage. The Bulldogs would chip away to get back within 22-21 before the Blue Devils scored the final three points of the set to take the match.
- James tallied 14 kills, 21 digs and five blocks with three of them solo.
- McGovern recorded 13 kills, 14 digs and two blocks.
- O'Brien recorded 10 kills on a .304 hitting percentage and added three blocks.
- Freshman Alysa Wright (Wayne, Pa.) collected six blocks and seven kills.
- Motu'apuaka tallied 22 assists and 13 digs, while Cergol added 20 assists and 10 digs.
- Junior Erika Ward (Rochester, Mich.) recorded 20 digs to move to 1,400 for her career.
- Freshman Maggie Ryan (Bethesda, Md.) recorded five kills against no errors on 11 attacks.
- Bryant drops to 10-18 all-time against Central Connecticut and 9-16 in the Division I era.
Bryant travels to Sacred Heart Saturday for a pivotal regular-season finale. The 5 p.m. match in Fairfield, Connecticut, can be seen on NEC Front Row.