Chargers Power Past Wayland Baptist, 3-1

Charger Athletics

PUEBLO, Colo. – After being edged in set one, a strong second frame all-around and an explosive set-three showing from Kristen Lee (Colorado Springs, Colo./Liberty) led the University of New Haven women’s volleyball team to a 3-1 victory over Wayland Baptist on Saturday morning at the ThunderWolves Classic hosted by Colorado State-Pueblo.

With the victory, the Chargers remain unbeaten at 3-0. New Haven swept Missouri Southern State and Cameron yesterday to open the tournament and the 2012 season. The Pioneers from Wayland Baptist fall to 1-7. New Haven took the match by set scores of 27-29, 25-14, 25-23 and 26-24.

Lee was one of three Chargers to record a double-double, notching a pair of personal bests in her young career with a match-high 18 kills and 18 digs. Eleven of the freshman’s kills came in the pivotal third set, including the Chargers’ last seven finishers en route to erasing a 19-14 deficit in the frame. Lee hit .386, committing just one hitting error on 44 swings.

Keidy Candelaria (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico/Bayamon Military Academy) turned in her second-straight double-double with 12 kills and 13 digs. Kristy Atufunwa (Denver, Colo./Denver East) also pounded a dozen kills. Amber Cannady (Yonkers, N.Y./Charles E. Gorton) added nine, Margo Meteyer (Madison, Wisc./Madison West) had five and Kea-Marie Olaso (Kailua, Hawai’i/Le Jardin Academy) added one from the back row. The Chargers hit .168 (63-32-184) in the match.

The third double-double for the Chargers came from the setter spot, where Kaulana Ane doled out 50 assists in addition to 14 digs. Ane added six kills of her own and landed a service ace. Candelaria had three of New Haven’s five aces, with the other winner coming from Bai Zhang.

Olaso led the defensive effort with a match-high 28 of the Chargers’ 85 digs, while Cannady had a hand in three of New Haven’s five blocks.

Wayland Baptist was led by its setter, Natasha Giacomazzi, who recorded a double-double of her own with 40 assists and a team-best 24 digs. Shahala Hawkins had 17 kills for the Pioneers, who hit .122 (45-25-164) as a group.

The Pioneers rallied to claim the first set, erasing two separate five-point deficits to edge New Haven, 29-27, and take the early advantage. The Chargers came out firing the second frame, as two Candelaria aces and a pair of kills by Atufunwa fueled a quick 8-2 run to begin the set. New Haven never looked back, extending the margin as wide as 11 points en route to evening the match with a 25-14 win.

The two clubs traded points to open set three before Wayland reeled off five of seven winners to take a 7-5 advantage. The Chargers bounced back with three straight – guided by kills from Lee and Meteyer – to take an 8-7 lead. The set returned to a back-and-forth affair at that point, as neither team would take a lead larger than two points up to a 14-12 New Haven cushion. At that juncture, the Pioneers went on a 5-0 run – all without the benefit of a kill – to take a 17-14 edge and induce a Charger timeout.

The spurt extended to 7-0 out of the stoppage, staking Wayland with a 19-14 cushion. A hitting error by the Pioneers ended the run, and the Blue and Gold capitalized on the momentum swing. Lee hammered kills on back-to-back rallies and another Wayland miscue trimmed the deficit to one point and forced the Pioneers to take their first timeout.

Wayland was the first team to 20 points, scoring first after the timeout to grab a 20-18 lead. Lee took over again at that point, with three kills during a 4-0 stretch that brought the Chargers all the way back and into the lead at 22-20. After a Pioneers’ point, Ane continued to find the hot hand as two more kills from Lee brought the contest to set point at 24-22. Wayland fought off the first set-point opportunity before a ball-handling error by Giacomazzi gave the frame to the Chargers, 25-23.

One set away from victory, New Haven took an early 5-4 lead and held the Pioneers at an arm’s length for the majority of the frame. The Chargers never put together an extended run, but the Chargers would not allow consecutive points for Wayland through the set’s first 30 rallies en route to opening a 17-13 advantage.

At that point, the Pioneers pieced together a 5-2 stretch to climb within a point, 19-18, before consecutive kills by Atufunwa, Cannady and Lee grew the margin back to four points at 22-18. The tenacious Wayland club again crawled back and eventually pulled even at 24-24 before back-to-back kills by Candelaria and Atufunwa capped the 26-24 win for the Chargers to give New Haven a 3-1 triumph.

In total, the match included 25 ties and 11 lead changes, though New Haven scored first and never trailed in both sets two and four.

The Chargers conclude action at the ThunderWolves Classic this afternoon with a match against Montana State-Billings. First serve is slated for approximately 3 p.m. ET. New Haven opens its home schedule on Wednesday, Sept. 12 against the New York Institute of Technology at 7 p.m.

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