Chargers Outlast Bridgeport for 3-2 Victory

Charger Athletics

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The University of New Haven women’s volleyball team completed a home-and-home sweep of the regular season series against Bridgeport, besting its in-state rival in a five-set thriller on Thursday evening in Bridgeport’s Hubbell Gym. The Chargers took the match by set scores of 25-16, 23-25, 25-23, 18-25 and 15-12.

UNH women’s volleyball team besting its in-state rival, Bridgeport, in a five-set thriller.

With their 11th-consecutive win, the Chargers improve to 14-1. Bridgeport falls to 12-4. New Haven swept the Purple Knights at Charger Gymnasium on Sept. 20. The Nutmeg State foes have met at the NCAA Division II East Region Championship in each of the last three seasons.

Keidy Candelaria (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico/Bayamon Military Academy) led all players with 27 kills and finished off the double-double with 15 digs. Kristen Lee (Colorado Springs, Colo./Liberty) also registered a double-double with 14 kills and 16 digs, while Amber Cannady (Yonkers, N.Y./Charles E. Gorton) neared the feat with 13 kills and a match-best eight blocks. Kristy Atufunwa (Denver, Colo./Denver East) posted five kills, and Kaulana Ane (Paia, Hawaii/Kamehameha) added two.

Ane was the third Charger with a double-double, running the offense to the tune of 50 assists and adding 11 digs from the back row. As a unit, New Haven hit .191 (61-26-183) in the five-set contest.

Defensively, Kea-Marie Olaso (Kailua, Hawai’i/Le Jardin Academy) led the back row with 22 digs, and Bai Zhang (China/Shan Dong Zi Bo No. 10 / China Shan Dong Normal University) contributed with 13. Joining Cannady at the net were Ane and Atufunwa, who each had a hand in four of the Chargers’ 12 blocks.

Candelaria accounted for four of New Haven’s seven aces. Ane landed two winners and Lee notched one service ace.

Biljana Savic led four Purple Knights in double-figures with 14 kills and a match-high 25 digs. Fernanda Silva distributed 51 digs in the losing effort for Bridgeport.

New Haven started the match with authority, running off the first seven points sparked by three kills and a block from Cannady. Bridgeport would break the string at seven, but the Chargers never looked back – leading by as many as 11 points in a 25-16 win.

The second set went back-and-forth from the start until a 3-0 spurt put Bridgeport on top, 10-7. The Purple Knights kept New Haven at arm’s length for the remainder of the set, fighting off a 5-0 run and hanging on for a 25-23 win to knot the match at 1-1.

In the third set, Bridgeport claimed a quick 7-2 lead. The clubs would trade points over the next stretch of action until a 5-0 run – again fueled by Cannady on the attack and at the net – gave New Haven its first lead at 13-11. The battle went on to a 23-23 score when a Candelaria kill and a service ace by Ane gave the pivotal third frame to New Haven, 25-23. Sets two and three each featured seven ties and three lead changes.

An 8-0 run was the difference maker in the fourth set as Bridgeport extended the match with a 25-18 win to force a deciding fifth frame.

The Chargers made the first run of set five, rattling off four points in a row to gain a 7-3 advantage. The four-point cushion held up to a 9-5 tally, but the Purple Knights responded by claiming six of the next eight points to deadlock the score at 11-11. A Candelaria kill and a block by Atufunwa and Ashley Dalton (Helena, Mont./Capital / Northern Arizona) broke the tie and gave the Chargers a 13-11 advantage. After a Bridgeport kill, New Haven finished off the marathon encounter with back-to-back Candelaria finishers that won the match for the Chargers with a 15-12 fifth-set decision.

In total, the match between in-state rivals featured 22 kills and nine lead changes.

Action returns to Charger Gym on Saturday, Oct. 13 as Northeast-10 action resumes with a 1 p.m. visit from Massachusetts Lowell. The match will be available live in high definition and on most mobile devices on NewHavenChargers.com.