BUZZARDS BAY, Mass – Tuesday night was a battle of the seventh and eighth place teams in the MASCAC volleyball standings as the Fitchburg State Falcons swooped in to the Clean Harbors Athletic Center to take on the winless Buccaneers. Both teams were looking for their first conference win, and it showed on the court as the game went five sets. Though the Falcons took the first two, the Bucs roared back winning three consecutive sets to take the match, 3-2 on their home court.
The Buccaneers played their best match of the season, racking up 42 total kills, 16 service aces and posting a .094 kill percentage. Junior, Marie Harrison (Weymouth, Mass) led the match with 13 kills, a season high for Harrison. She added two service aces for a total of 15 points on the night. Lone senior, Jen Roy (Attleboro, Mass) also posted a season high in kills with 12 of her own and added three service aces, leading the team with 17.5 points on the night. Not to be outdone, sophomore, Madison Coughlin (Monroe, Conn) also had double digit kills, adding 10 for the Bucs, along with a match high six service aces. Junior outside hitter Michelle Sheehan (Attleboro, Mass) assisted her teammates 31 times in the match, easily the match high. Defensively, Christina Ruggeri (Bourne, Mass) dove all over the court to rack up 29 digs in the match. She added three service aces for the hosts offensively.
For the Falcons, Nicole Sylvester and Kristina Osborne led the Fitchburg attack, each with a team high eight kills. She added two service aces to her stat line as well. Kathryn Caroll and Lauren Ricardi each had seven kills for the visitors. Riccardi also had four service aces, which led the Falcons, in the match. Amy Coelho led the way in assists with 23 for FSU.
The Buccaneers came out slow in the first set. Though the teams went back and forth to begin the set, Fitchburg pulled away, leading 10-3 at one point. The Bucs would pull back within five but no closer as the Falcons took the set, 25-18.
In set two, the Falcons took a 10-2 lead this time, but the Bucs would claw back getting within three of their guests before Fitchburg grabbed the momentum back and won the set by six, 25-19.
Down two sets, the Buccaneers needed to answer and extend the match, and they did just that. Starting with a 6-0 run with Coughlin at the serve, the Bucs extended the six-point lead out to eight. Though a few unforced errors allowed the Falcons to score some points, the Bucs hit the 20-point with a 14-point, 20-6 lead. At the end of the set, the Bucs played their most dominant set of the season, winning by 15 points, 25-10, to force a fourth set.
In the fourth set, still down one, the Buccaneers fell behind early; nothing that was out of reach. The teams traded points tying at four, then five, then six, and then the Bucs pulled away, grabbing a short lived, 12-9, advantage. The Falcons proceeded to go on an 8-4 run, taking a 17-16 lead. That's when tension got high in the Clean Harbors Athletic Center with both teams scoring on a number of unforced errors and service aces. The teams tied at 22 apiece and eventually 25 apiece. Since the sets are win-by-two one team had to break the set open and the Buccaneers did just that, taking a 26-25 lead and subsequently winning the set on a Roy block, 27-25, to force a 15-point, fifth and deciding set.
Set five began with the Falcons darting out to a 4-1 advantage, followed by four straight points by the Bucs. Tied at five, the Falcons made three errors and Ruggeri served up an ace to take a 9-5 lead, forcing a Falcon timeout. Following the break, Maritime continued scoring, going up 11-5, forcing a second and final Fitchburg timeout. With their backs in the corner, the Falcons scored five to Maritime's three. With a 14-10 lead and match point looming, the Bucs closed on a kill by Roy to win the set and the match, 15-10.
With the victory, the Buccaneers improve to 1-14 overall and 1-3 in the MASCAC. The win vaulted them in to the 6th and final MASCAC playoff spot for the time being with three conference matches left to play. With the loss, Fitchburg drops to 2-15 overall, 0-4 in the MASCAC.
Next up for the Bucs is a trip to Fished College for a 7pm match on Friday, October 12th.