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Four double-doubles, fifth-set heroics lead Bryant to 3-2 win over Saint Francis

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Behind four double-doubles and a match-high 21 kills from senior Elena Lohr (Loveland, Ohio), the Bryant University volleyball team earned a 3-2 victory over Northeast Conference opponent Saint Francis University Saturday night in the team's home league opener.

Lohr's 21 kills were complimented by 13 digs and a .300 hitting percentage to pace four Bulldogs (5-16, 1-1 NEC) to pick up double-double efforts on the night. Rookie Natascha Scarff (Geneva, Switzerland) added 14 kills with 16 digs, also serving up an impressive career-high six aces. Bryant also received double-doubles from its tandem of setters, with redshirt-freshman Vika Nesterov (Kfar Saba, Israel) dishing out 29 assists with 12 digs and junior Jana Kmec (Stratford, Conn.) adding 20 assists and 10 digs.

The Red Flash (6-11, 2-1) saw its only double-double come from Hannah Kutny's 19 kills and 19 digs, while Kayla Jeckell added 15 kills to help pace the Saint Francis offense. Setter Alanna Blenkarn paced the match with 46 helpers (8 digs), and Sophie Murdock posted a contest-best six blocks (1 solo).

Sophomore Sara DePouw (Oconto, Wis.) (8 kills) paced Bryant's defense at the net with five blocks of her own, as both teams finished the tilt with seven team blocks. Junior libero Debora Magalhaes (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) picked up her fourth 30-dig outing to pace the match defensively, totaling 34 digs in the five-set performance.

Despite leading, 16-7, midway through the opening set, the Bulldogs couldn't hold on in the first, allowing the Red Flash to mount a spectacular comeback and take a 1-0 lead with a 25-22 set-one win. But in the second, Bryant took over a 7-6 advantage early and never gave it up, cruising to a match-tying 25-17 victory in the second frame.

The third saw Saint Francis return the favor by the same score, forcing a do-or-die fourth stanza for the Black and Gold. The Bulldogs answered that challenge, never trailing after the first point to hammer home a 25-15 win and force the decisive fifth set.

In the final frame, the Bulldogs won the race to eight and took a 9-6 advantage before three-straight Red Flash scores tied the frame at 9-9. The home side took a two-point, 12-10, lead that was once again erased by the visitors, and a 14-12 Bryant advantage was also matched, 14-14. But with the game on the line, it was back-to-back kills from DePouw that brought home the win, as the Black and Gold triumphed in the set, 16-14, and the match, 3-2.

In total, the Bulldogs saw nine aces to the Red Flash's four and outkilled their opponents, 58-54. The hosts won the margin on defense, with 91 digs to Saint Francis's 82, and outhit their visitors, .200 to .163.

The Black and Gold return to action Sunday afternoon, hosting Robert Morris University in search of their third-straight victory (1:00 p.m.).