The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Volleyball falls in two matches, wins one in season opener

Lafayette volleyball swept New Hampshire before falling to Fairfield in straight sets at the Villanova Classic to open the season. (Photo by Sarah Boekholder for GoLeopards)

The volleyball team (1-2 overall, 0-0 Patriot League) opened their season at the Villanova Classic this past weekend, where they went 1-2. The Leopards lost to both Villanova and Fairfield 0-3, but were victorious over the University Of New Hampshire 3-0.

After graduating seven seniors, the team welcomed four new freshmen to the program. The Leopards will look to repeat last year’s strong season, in which they finished 15-10 with an astounding 12-4 conference record and 8-2 in home matches.

“I’m most looking forward to competing with our record from last year and trying to prove to ourselves and our fans that our program is successful,” senior outside hitter Grace Steurer said.

Friday’s game against Villanova couldn’t have been closer.The ending score resulted in the Leopards falling in straight sets (23-25, 24-26, 27-29)– to the host school.

“Villanova was a challenge for sure. They were very tall and athletic,” Steurer said. “We held our own against them and learned a lot, but ended up coming up short.”

Lafayette took a 22-18 lead thanks to back-to-back kills by sophomore outside hitter Abby Nieporte and freshman opposite hitter Hannah Ehrich-Pollock in the second set to force Villanova into a timeout. Unfortunately, the hosts gained momentum off the timeout and went on a 4-0 scoring run to tie up the set.

The third and final sets on Friday night told a similar story, as the Leopards managed to get out to a 24-21 lead but the Wildcats were able to come back to win the sets.

Freshman outside hitter Carol Ulichney led the Leopards with nine kills, six digs and a block in her collegiate debut. Junior middle blocker Gracie Gibson and Nieporte both had seven putaways.

Junior libero Katie Weston had 18 digs and her classmate setter Alyssa Vitale added 25 assists, six digs and two service aces. Sophomore outside hitter Phoebe Glass had six kills.

Saturday’s double header resulted in a split, with the Leopards sweeping New Hampshire (26-24, 25-21, 25-19) before falling to Fairfield in straight sets (23-25, 22-25, 16-25).

Lafayette jumped right out with a 4-1 lead with Nieporte on the service line. The teams went back and forth until the second set, in which the Leopards took on another early lead to solidify a win for the set.

The Leopards took a 5-1 lead to start the final frame against the Wildcats with Ulichney at the service line. They maintained the lead for the remainder of the set and closed out with a kill by Gibson.

Nieporte and Glass both had double-digit kills, with 12 and 10. Nieporte served up five aces while Vitale added a double-double with 29 assists, 10 digs and five aces.

“The energy and dynamic on this team is tremendously better than all the other years I’ve been here. Something feels very special about this group,” Steurer said. “We are all so gritty and hardworking, while also keeping friendship and team dynamic as a top priority.” 

Despite honest efforts from Nieporte and Vitale later that evening on Saturday, Fairfield managed to hit .356 as a unit and defeat the Leopards in straight sets.

The Leopards will face Columbia University, St. Francis Brooklyn and Manhattan College this weekend in the Big Apple Tournament. The first match will be tonight at 7 p.m. in New York, N.Y.

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About the Contributor
Nicky Nathanson
Nicky Nathanson, Staff Sports Writer
Nicky Nathanson (he/him) has been involved with the sports section of The Lafayette since freshman year and recently got promoted to staff writer this past fall. An English Major with a writing concentration and Sociology Minor, Nicky is hoping the skills he has acquired while working as a sportswriter will help him pursue a career in journalism. On campus, Nicky is a part of club tennis. In his free time, Nicky enjoys watching sports and making music.

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