Freshmen step up in Bryant's win at Hartford

Photo by DSPics.com
Photo by DSPics.com

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – A trio of Bryant Volleyball freshmen played key roles as the Bulldogs recorded a four-set win at Hartford Tuesday night.

Freshman Caroline Kennedy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) matched her career-high with 20 kills, while freshman Maya Popernik (Chicago, Ill.) posted a career night with 10 kills and seven digs off the bench. Freshman Haley O'Brien (Milton, Mass.) added six blocks for the Bulldogs, who picked up their third-straight victory.

Match Information
Bryant 3, Hartford 1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-18)
Records: Bryant (12-7); Hartford (7-6)
Location: Hartford Volleyball Gym (West Hartford, Conn.) 

Coach Garlacy's Comments
"Our freshmen really stepped up tonight. Maya Popernik played all the way around, serving tough, scoring against a tough middle blocker and serve receiving with great consistency. Haley O'Brien stepped up in the middle, shutting down their big middle [Jenna Bridges.] At one point we had an all-freshman front row, with Caroline Kennedy and her enthusiastic approach to the game leading the way with 20 kills."

"Alisi Motu'apuaka did a great job coming in, setting and playing great defense while serving tough, and Kristin Kingi gave us a solid all-around performance with 15 kills and 19 digs."

How it Happened

  • Set 1 – Hartford led 14-10 before a 7-1 Bryant run gave the Black and Gold a 17-15 advantage on a block from redshirt-senior Julia Flynn (Pembroke, Mass.) and senior Grace Richmeyer (DeSoto, Mo.). The Bulldogs led 19-17 before a 7-2 Hartford run gave the Hawks set point at 24-21. After a kill from Kennedy, Hartford closed out a 25-22 win in the first.
  • Set 2 – Hartford held a 16-12 advantage before a 7-0 Bryant run, with four kills from its freshmen, turned the tide. The Hawks would pull even at 22 and again at 23 before kills from senior Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Richmeyer won the set 25-23. Popernik had three kills and three digs in the frame.
  • Set 3 – Kennedy tallied seven kills in the set, Popernik added two and O'Brien chipped in with three blocks. With the score tied 20-20, Bryant scored five of the final six points of the set to win it 25-21.
  • Set 4 – Bryant trailed 5-3 before an 8-2 run with four kills from Popernik put the Bulldogs ahead 11-7. Sophomore Alisi Motu'apuaka (Virginia Beach, Va.) recorded aces for points 22 and 23 before kills from Richmeyer and Sperry closed out the win.

Stats/Notes

  • Kennedy hit .429 (20-2-42) to match her career-high in kills, while adding four blocks.
  • Senior Kristin Kingi (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) recorded 15 kills on a .312 hitting percentage with 19 digs.
  • Popernik hit .350 (10-3-20) with seven digs and one block.
  • Sperry recorded 43 assists and 10 digs, while sophomore Erika Ward (Rochester, Mich.) tallied 16 digs.
  • Bryant hit .220 in the match, while Hartford hit .237.
  • The Bulldogs improve to 13-8 all-time against Hartford and 6-7 in the Division I era.

Up Next
Bryant travels to Brooklyn for the second weekend of NEC play, opening with a Friday night match at LIU Brooklyn. First serve against the Blackbirds is slated for 6 p.m.

Follow Bryant University volleyball on Twitter and Instagram to get an inside look at the program.