Women's volleyball drops five-set heartbreaker to New Haven in NCAA Tournament

Women's volleyball drops five-set heartbreaker to New Haven in NCAA Tournament

AMHERST, N.Y. – The Philadelphia University women's volleyball team gave the University of New Haven all it could handle in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday evening at Daemen College, but the Rams came up just short in a nail-biting match 3-2 (25-20, 20-25, 27-25, 22-25, 16-14).

The Rams—who were making their NCAA Tournament after winning their first Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference title—end the season with an overall record of 29-5. The 29 victories are the third most in program history.

Courtney Wensel (Bechtelsville, Pa./Berks Catholic) racked up a career-high 24 kills, while hitting .254, and 11 digs to record her 28th double-double of the season. Ariana Rosario (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico/CPN) notched 10 kills and 15 digs, both career highs, for her first double-double. Alexandra Harrington (St. Leonard, Md./Huntingtown) had 50 assists and 11 digs.

Corinne Justus (Allentown, Pa./Emmaus) added 11 kills, while Mariah Cadzow (Mountville, Pa./Hempfield) had 23 digs and five service aces—both are career highs. Alexis Leddy (Reading, Pa./Berks Catholic) contributed 20 digs.

New Haven—who hit .444 in the opening set—attempted to take control of the set as the Chargers got out to a 10-6 lead. Philadelphia came back to score seven of the next 10 points to even the set at 13 on a Cadzow. It was fourth of seven set-one ties. With the set tied at 16, the Chargers went on a 6-1 surge to open up a set-high five-point lead (22-17). The Rams would get as close as three the rest of the way.

Trailing 17-11 in the second, Wensel took the set over as she recorded six kills during a 14-3 outburst that would tie the match at one set each. Justus added two kills during the run, while Leddy picked up a pair of service aces. Philadelphia had an attack percent of .229 in the set, while New Haven hit just .111.

Philadelphia broke a four-all tie in the third set with three consecutive points to establish a 7-4 lead on a Wensel kill. The Rams held the lead until the Charges went on a 6-1 run to take a 22-20 advantage. After a Philadelphia timeout, Philadelphia bounced back with three straight points, including two Cadzow aces, to go back in front 23-22. With the score tied at 25, New Haven got back-to-back kills from Caroline Martins and Meghan Kennelly to win the set.

The Rams stormed out to a 9-3 set-four advantage behind two aces and one kill from Cadzow. New Haven responded with nine of the next 11 points to take an 11-10 advantage. Later in the set, Philadelphia would erase an 18-15 New Haven lead with a 6-2 run to make the score 21-20 in the Rams' favor. After the Chargers made it a 21-21 set, the Rams scored four of the final five points to win the set on a Rosario kill and force a deciding set.

In the final set, New Haven recorded 13 of its 16 points with kills. Philadelphia trailed early on 6-2, but managed to chip away at the deficit, fight off two match points, and tie the set at 14 on a Justus kill. The Chargers won the final two points on a Martins kill and a Philadelphia attack error.

The Chargers—who improve to 20-8 and advance to face host Daemen in the second round on Friday, Dec. 2—had four players with a double-figure kill total, led by Kennelly's 18 kills and 18 digs. Charleigh Crews notched 30 digs.