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Seniors help lead comeback in five-set win over Sacred Heart to clinch NEC tournament berth

Photo by DSPics.com
Photo by DSPics.com

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Seniors Ally Lunsford (Minneola, Fla.) and Kiley Robbins (Garland, Texas) helped lead a thrilling comeback on Senior Day, as the Bryant University volleyball team battled back to defeat Sacred Heart in five sets Saturday at the Chace Athletic Center.

With the victory, Bryant qualified for the Northeast Conference tournament for the third-straight season.

Game Information
Bryant 3, Sacred Heart 2 (25-27, 12-25, 27-25, 25-17, 15-8)
Records: Bryant (19-11, 9-3 NEC); Sacred Heart (11-14, 5-7 NEC)
Location: Chace Athletic Center (Smithfield, R.I.) 

Coach Garlacy's Comments
"We had so many people step up in so many different positions. We had struggled a bit in the first two sets – I think the emotion of the day got the better of us. In the third set, we decided we were going to play hard and fast. Kiley Robbins did a great job on the outside. Nikki Kim came in at libero and was an amazing asset for us. Sydney Gorski came in on the right side and made some solid touches. Our defense and quickness put us in a position where we could go to five and win, and we're not going to lose that game at home on senior day." 

How it Happened

  • Set 1 – Bryant led 21-15 before Sacred Heart battled back with a 12-4 run to take the opening set. Junior Julia Flynn (Pembroke, Mass.) had four kills in the opening frame.
  • Set 2 – The Pioneers hit .378 to take the second set by a 25-12 margin. Flynn tallied three kills in the set.
  • Set 3 – For the second time in as many meetings this season, Sacred Heart took the first two sets and got to 25 in the third. Trailing 25-24, the Bulldogs responded with three straight blocks, with junior Grace Richmeyer (DeSoto, Mo.) in on all three and teaming up with senior Kiley Robbins (Garland, Texas) for two of them. Bryant would force a fourth set with a 27-25 win in the third.
  • Set 4 – With the set tied at 15, the Bulldogs rattled off a 7-0 run with two blocks and a kill from senior Ally Lunsford (Minneola, Fla.). Lunsford and Robbins had four kills each in the set as the Bulldogs forced a fifth set.
  • Set 5 – Robbins tallied four kills, while Flynn and sophomore Nikki Kim (River Edge, N.J.) combined for 11 digs in a 15-8 set win.

Stats/Notes                                                         

  • Junior Julia Flynn (Pembroke, Mass.) recorded a team-high 14 kills for her 20th double-digit kill performance of 2017.
  • Senior Kiley Robbins (Garland, Texas) tallied 13 kills and seven blocks, while senior Ally Lunsford (Minneola, Fla.) recorded nine kills and nine blocks. The block totals were career-highs for both seniors.
  • Junior Grace Richmeyer (DeSoto, Mo.) had seven kills and seven blocks.
  • Junior Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.) tallied 25 assists, 13 digs, eight kills and four blocks.
  • Freshman Alisi Motu'apuaka (Virginia Beach, Va.) added a career-high 21 assists and eight digs.
  • Flynn led the team with 19 digs, while junior Kristin Kingi (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) added 14.
  • Six Bulldogs had at least eight digs in the match, as freshman Erika Ward (Rochester, Mich.) tallied nine and sophomore Nikki Kim (River Edge, N.J.) chipped in eight.
  • Bryant improves to 6-14 against Sacred Heart in the Division I era, but 5-3 since the start of 2014.
  • The Bulldogs have qualified for the NEC tournament for the third-straight year. Bryant is joined by LIU Brooklyn, Central Connecticut and Robert Morris in the four-team field. The four teams are separated by one match entering the final weekend, with the Bulldogs, Blue Devils and Blackbirds all tied at 9-3 and the Colonials at 8-4.

Up Next
Bryant closes the regular season in Pennsylvania next weekend with matches at Robert Morris (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Saint Francis U (Saturday, 5 p.m.).