Volleyball grounds Skyhawks, win 3-2

Jessica+Akiona+spikes+a+ball+against+Southern+Connecticut+State%2C+Nov.+4%2C+West+Haven.

Photo courtesy of Tyler Wells

Jessica Akiona spikes a ball against Southern Connecticut State, Nov. 4, West Haven.

Tyler Wells, Associate Editor

On Saturday afternoon, the New Haven women’s volleyball team took home a standout 3-2 win over the Stonehill College Skyhawks, defeating the top-ranked team in the Northeast-10 (NE-10) and East Region. This comes just two days after the Chargers suffered a tough loss at home against Southern Connecticut State University in the Elm City Rivalry, dropping three straight sets after going up 2-0.

The first set was back-and-forth between the two powerhouses, with each side trading points and staying even. Stonehill opened a 16-12 lead before New Haven found a response. A series of kills from outside hitters Macy Brown and Emily Barry and middle blocker Emily Smith gave New Haven a 9-3 run to take a 20-19 lead in the set.

Two kills from middle blocker Jalynn Finnie and a final resounding one from senior right-side Jessica Akiona clinched the first set for the Chargers 25-22.

In the second set, the Stonehill jumped out to a big lead early, forcing New Haven to play from behind. With a 23-16 deficit, the Chargers outscored Stonehill 6-1 to bring the score to 24-22. But it wouldn’t be enough, as the Skyhawks took the second set 25-22.

With the game tied at 1-1, each side entered the third set looking to get the advantage and break the tie. This time, it was New Haven jumping out to an 18-11 lead before Stonehill chipped away, drawing within three of the lead. These three straight points would ice the set for the Chargers, as an Akiona kill, Barry ace and Brown kill gave New Haven a 25-19 advantage.

The top team in the region would not go quietly, as Stonehill flexed their strength in the fourth set with the game on the line. They handed New Haven a 25-17 loss and forced them to the full five sets for the second straight game.

In the fifth set, New Haven found a rhythm and got out to a critical early lead. Seven unanswered points gave the Chargers an 8-3 lead, with a few errors from Stonehill and a pair of kills from Akiona. New Haven held onto this lead through the end, as a booming spike from Barry sailed off the hands of the Stonehill libero to end the game.

The Chargers were led by Barry’s 18 kills and three service aces, while Brown and Akiona added 16 and 14 kills, respectively. Setter Sophia Leon-Tabor also added a team-high 50 assists.

With the win, New Haven improves to 19-7 (9-2 NE-10) and sits in a tie for second in the conference with a week remaining. Stonehill drops to 20-7 (10-2 NE-10) and holds a slim lead in the NE-10.

New Haven travels to Assumption College on Tuesday at 7 p.m. with a chance to help their conference standing before the season ends. Live stats and a stream for the game can be found at NewHavenChargers.com.