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Team effort takes down CCSU, 3-1, Friday at home

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – On the back of 16 kills from senior Sara DePouw (Oconto, Wis.) and sophomore Julia Flynn (Pembroke, Mass.) and a spark off the bench from rookie Sydney Gorski (Chagrin Falls, Ohio), the Bryant University volleyball team notched a key victory over Central Connecticut State University, 3-1, Friday night at the Chace Athletic Center.

Flynn (16 kills, 14 digs) and setters Vika Katzen (Kfar Saba, Israel) (39 assists, 11 digs) and Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.) (11 kills, 14 assists) all picked up double-doubles as the Bulldogs (16-13, 7-3 Northeast Conference) earned a split of the season series with the Blue Devils (12-10, 7-3) with Friday's victory.

Gorski was a sparkplug for the Bulldogs off the bench, grabbing eight kills in three sets while registering a .462 attack percentage and adding a team-high three blocks. Classmate Ava Patterson (Danville, Calif.) and sophomore Grace Richmeyer (DeSoto, Mo.) also chipped in three blocks apiece, with the former adding five kills and two aces. Junior libero Erica Vendituoli (Nashua, N.H.) picked up 19 digs to pace the contest.

The Blue Devils were led by 12 kills from Cassidy Stankowski and 10 more from Raquel Quirarte. Maddie Smith (3 kills) and Brooke Schwab (6) led the way at the net with eight blocks apiece, anchoring a CCSU side that put up 18 total stuffs to Bryant's nine.

Kaitlyn Kushman added 20 assists with 10 digs for the visitors, while Erin McDermott served up two aces to complement her own double-double effort (18 assists, 11 digs).

The Bulldogs led nearly start to finish in the opening set, building a six-point 13-7 lead midway through the frame. The gap would close to two, 14-12, after a Bryant attack error, but the Blue Devils would get no closer, as the Black and Gold rode eight kills from Flynn to a 25-21 set-one win.

The Blue Devils flipped the script to open the second, taking a 12-8 lead after consecutive blocks from Quirarte and Smith. An ace three points later forced the Bulldogs into their second timeout of the frame, but the home side would draw the score back within two, 18-16, out of the break. Consecutive McDermott aces moved the margin back to five, 21-16, but Bryant would mount one of the strongest comebacks of the year from there, outscoring the Blue Devils, 9-2, through the remainder of the set to earn a 2-0 match lead with a 25-23 victory in the frame.

The Bulldogs battled back from another deficit in the third, and a DePouw kill would close what was once a 14-8 gap to just a single point, 20-19. But the Blue Devil offense would take over, scoring five of the final eight points to close the match deficit to one, 2-1, with a 25-22 victory.

The fourth marked a back-and-forth affair that would tie up for the third time at 19-19. Schwab would put the visitors up two, 22-20, with back-to-back aces, but two kills from Gorski and two from DePouw would set up match point at 24-23. The contest would close with a bang, as Patterson and Katzen posted a thundering block to shut down Quirarte and earn the 3-1 victory (25-23).

As a unit, the Bulldogs hit .174 on the night to CCSU's .152. The Bulldogs won the margins in kills (63-44), assists (59-41) and digs (72-55), while the Blue Devils dominated on the block (16-9).

With the victory, the Bulldogs have now won three straight for the first time since mid-September. The Black and Gold will look to extend their winning streak next weekend, hosting LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis Brooklyn at the Chace Athletic Center Nov. 5-6.