BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – The Bridgewater State University volleyball team edged reigning conference champion Worcester State University, 3-2 (16-25, 25-15, 25-16, 22-25, 15-12), in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) match on Wednesday night at the Tinsley Center.
The Bears improve to 6-6 on the season and 2-2 in the MASCAC with their third straight win, while the two-time defending MASCAC champion Lancers fall to 5-10 overall and 2-1 in conference play. Worcester State had won each of the previous four meetings of the two teams.
Junior middle hitter Sydney Rice (Medway, Mass.) paced Bridgewater State with a career-high 15 kills to go along with four aces and three blocks (two solo), while junior outside hitter Abigail Gardner (Holden, Mass.) notched a career-best 13 kills as well as 11 digs, two aces and a solo block. Junior setter Casey Holmes (Norton, Mass.) tallied a career-high 38 assists in addition to 16 digs, three aces and a pair of kills.
Junior outside hitter Gabryella Serrano (Bridgewater, Mass.) added eight kills, 21 digs and two aces for the Bears, while junior defensive specialist Maggie Czarniak (Kingston, Mass.) registered 12 digs and four aces. Freshman libero Victoria Caiano (New Bedford, Mass.) checked in with 19 digs and three aces.
Sophomore outside hitter Natalie Gillis (Ashland, Mass.) posted 19 kills and 20 digs to lead the way for Worcester State. The Lancers also received 32 assist and 15 digs from senior setter Katie Gagnon (Hampden, Mass.), as well as seven kills apiece from senior middle blocker Marissa Proia (Framingham, Mass.) and senior right side hitter Megan Johns (Burrillville, R.I.). Proia added four blocks (three solo).
Worcester held the edge in play in the first set as the Lancers cruised to the 25-16 win. Gillis notched three kills in the set, while Proia and sophomore outside hitter Leelle Tyler (Longmeadow, Mass.) each notched two kills and an ace. The Lancers committed just two attacking errors in the frame, while Bridgewater finished with more attacking errors (10) than kills (9).
In the second set, the Bears trailed 8-4 before dominating the rest of the set. Bridgewater State scored 21 of the final 28 points, which included five aces, five kills and 11 Worcester errors. Gardner and Caiano notched two aces apiece during the run while Rice tallied the Bears' final two points of the set with a pair of kills.
The third set was tied 7-7 when the Bears used a 7-1 run highlighted by a pair of aces by Czarniak and a Serrano kill to open up a 14-8 lead. After Worcester closed the gap to 15-12, the Bears dominated down the stretch. Three kills by Rice, two from Gardner and one by Serrano as well as a pair of aces from Holmes and Serrano helped the Bears pull away for the 25-16 win.
Worcester State trailed in the fourth set before rallying for the 25-22 victory. Down 15-10, The Lancers capitalized on seven BSU errors and received two kills apiece from Gillis, Johns and senior middle blocker Stephanie Chapin (Hampden, Mass.) to knot the match at 2-2.
In a tightly contested fifth and deciding set, Bridgewater posted a .304 hitting percentage and committed just one attacking error en route to a 15-12 decision and the match victory. Gardner notched four of the Bears' eight kills in the set including BSU's final two points.
Bridgewater State finished with a season-high 18 aces on the night compared to eight serving errors, while Worcester State recorded eight serving errors and just five aces.
In upcoming action, the Bears travel to Clark University on Friday evening to take on the Cougars at six. The Lancers head to Plymouth State University on Saturday for a noontime tri-match with the host Panthers and Northern Vermont-Lyndon.