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Bulldogs complete sweep of Saint Francis U. with 3-1 home win Saturday

Bulldogs complete sweep of Saint Francis U. with 3-1 home win Saturday

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Senior Sara DePouw (Oconto, Wis.) led the Bryant University volleyball team with 14 kills while Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Vika Katzen (Kfar Saba, Israel) each picked up double-doubles as the Bulldogs secured the season sweep of Saint Francis U. with a 3-1 home win Saturday.

The defense of libero Erica Vendituoli (Nashua, N.H.) also played a key role in the victory, as the junior picked up 20 digs for the Bulldogs (14-13, 5-3 Northeast Conference) and served up three of the team's seven aces. Sperry finished the game with 22 assists and 12 digs to complement four blocks and six kills, while Katzen added 19 assists, 15 digs and three aces.

Bryant also got strong offensive efforts from Ally Lunsford (Minneola, Fla.) (10 kills, .421 attack percentage, 3 blocks) and Kiley Robbins (Garland, Texas) (11 kills), while rookie Ava Patterson (Danville, Calif.) posted four blocks.

Saint Francis U. (4-17, 0-8) was paced by a match-high 15 kills from Christa White, while Breanna Opera added 11 more. Amelia Metzler grabbed her team's only double-double with 34 assists and 13 digs, while Jenna Veres's 29 digs were a contest best.

The first set saw 14 ties, with neither team taking more than a two-point lead until the Red Flash went up, 20-17, late in the frame. But the Bulldogs would score five of the next seven points to retie the frame at 22-22 before a Robbins kill – her fifth of the stanza – would give the hosts their first lead since early in the frame, 23-22. A service error would set up set point for the Black and Gold, and a ball-handling error gave Bryant the 25-23 win.

Saint Francis U. opened the second with six-straight points before Patterson got Bryant on the board, and it would take the Bulldogs more than half the set to make up the deficit. But a big Robbins kill would tie the stanza at 14-14, and three more Robbins kills all in a row soon after reknotted the margin at 18-18. Sydney Gorski (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) (4 kills) would give the home side a 22-20 advantage, and Bryant would score three of the next four for a 2-0 match lead and 25-21 victory.

The third was yet another battle between the sides, as Katzen broke an 11-11 tie with her second ace of the night. A perfect service from Vendituoli hit the far back corner of the Red Flash court for a 16-15 Bulldog advantage, but that edge would quickly swing in the other direction after consecutive Bryant errors, 20-18. Saint Francis would take advantage of the breathing room, eventually winning the frame, 25-21.

A Sperry ace would hand the Bulldogs an 8-6 lead early in the fourth, and a Lunsford kill and solo block moved that advantage to 10-6. Saint Francis would come back to tie the frame at 12-12, but the Bulldogs would score five of the next six to force a Red Flash timeout. Saint Francis would come out of the break fighting and close the gap to two, 21-19, but could never close it completely as the Black and Gold polished off the 3-1 match win with a 25-20 set-four victory.

In all, the match featured a whopping 35 ties, while both sides hit double-digits for team blocks (SFU, 11; Bryant 10). Saint Francis saw seven of those stuffs come from Sophia Esposito and four more from White and Sophie Murdock.

The Bulldogs return to the Chace Athletic Center court Sunday, hosting Robert Morris at 3 p.m.