TOWSON, Md. – No. 4 Hofstra University battled back from a 2-1 deficit to upset the top seeded Towson University volleyball team, 3-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association semifinals Saturday night. The Tigers (25-4) were led by junior Katy Buck who finished with 13 kills and 13 digs in the match.
“It was an up and down match that saw both teams battled all the way through,” said CAA Coach of the Year Bruce Atkinson. “We have to give credit to Hofstra, who stayed aggressive and pressured us throughout the match.”
Tied at 5-5 in the first set, the Tigers took advantage of a kill from Buck and back-to-back attack errors by the Pride (20-13) to take an 8-5 lead. The Tigers extended that lead to 14-9 behind a kill from senior Marta Machos. Buck’s third kill of the set, gave Towson a 20-14 lead. The Tigers claimed a 25-14 first set win on an attack error by Hofstra.
Hofstra held the Tigers to a -.217 hitting percentage in the second set and tied the match at one with a 25-7 victory. Kelsie Wills had four kills and three service aces for the Pride in the set.
The Tigers came out hot to start the third set and opened up a quick 12-2 advantage. Machos had a pair of service aces and three kills for Towson during that stretch. The Tigers extended their lead in the set to 16-5 on a kill from senior Karolina Sawaniewicz. Hofstra got a kill from Sara Campolina to make it 17-6 in the set; however that was the last point for the Pride in that set. Towson closed the third set on an 8-0 run to earn the 25-6 victory. Machos had a pair of kills during that stretch for the Tigers.
The fourth set was a back and forth affair that featured five ties and three lead changes. Trailing 11-9, Hofstra used a 7-0 run to take a 16-11 lead. Towson pulled to within four, 18-14 on a kill from senior Aubrey Kirven. Hofstra pushed its lead to 21-16 on a kill from Adama Aja. Towson scored four of the next five points to pull to within two, 22-20. However, the Pride took a timeout and following the break used a pair of kills and a block from Campolina and Wills to earn the 25-20 set victory.
The Pride opened the fifth and deciding set on a 7-3 run behind three kills form Wills. Towson used a kill from Machos and a pair of attack errors by the Pride to make it 7-6. Hofstra pushed its lead to 10-7 on a kill from Wills. Back-to-back kills from senior Alysha McCreary and freshman Haley Pa’akaula made it 10-9 in the set. Hofstra scored five of the final six points to claim a 15-10 set win and a 3-2 victory in the match.
The Tigers, who had an 18-match win streak snapped with the loss were led by Buck’s 11th “double-double” of the year. Machos added 12 kills and four blocks while Kirven had 39 assists and five digs. Sophomore Paige Sekerak led the Tigers’ defensive efforts with a match-high 19 digs.
Hofstra advances to tomorrow’s CAA Championship match where the Pride will face No. 2 Delaware at 5 p.m. Wills led the Pride with 20 kills and six digs while Catalina Charry had 25 assists, seven digs and four blocks.
Saturday’s match was the final career contest for the Tigers’ seven seniors, Machos, Kirven, McCreary, Sawaniewicz, Stacey Niehoff, Evan Schulz and I’ishah Keliikoa. However Atkinson will welcome back Buck, Sekerak and several other key contributors next season.