Hunt, Volleyball Ice Previously Undefeated Saint Joseph’s (ME) in Five Set Thriller

Casey Hunt

WORCESTER – Freshman Casey Hunt (Granby, CT) recorded a pair of kills and a service ace late in the fifth set to push WPI past previously undefeated Saint Joseph's (ME), 3-2 (16-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-16, 15-13), in a non-conference women's volleyball matchup Friday night in Harrington Auditorium. 

The Engineers (10-4), the only unranked team receiving votes on more than one ballot in each of the first three NEWVA Division III regional polls, achieved double-digit wins for the second time in as many seasons. The Monks, who came into the match tied for 15th in the same poll, slip to 15-1 on the season. 

Roanoke (16-0) now stands as the only undefeated team in Division III thanks to a 3-0 triumph over Randolph 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-21) earlier in the evening. 

Freshman Azita Bakhtyari (Andover, MA) served up an ace to give the Engineers an 8-6 lead at the switch in the fifth set. The Monks evened it up thanks to a pair of WPI miscues. From there, the frame featured three more ties and two lead changes, including a key kill by Hunt for the 13-12 advantage. Saint Joseph's took their lead (11-10) following a kill by senior Felicia Wachowiak (Milton, NH). An attack miscue on the first match point prolonged the contest to setup the game-winning swipe by Hunt. 

The Monks raced out to an 8-0 lead in the first set, highlighted by a pair of aces by junior Mariah Hebert (Biddeford, ME) and a pair of kills by Wachowiak, to force a WPI timeout. After the respite, a kill by junior Shadai Gosselin (Somersworth, NH) made it 9-0 before junior Sam Bircsak (Acton, MA) broke up the shutout with a kill. The Engineers then capitalized on SJC miscues to pull within four (9-5).  The Monks, looking to put the set away with a 24-12 lead, made a quartet of miscues before Wachowiak's kill ended it. 

In a much closer second set, the Crimson and Gray engineered a 10-9 advantage, their first lead of the night, courtesy of a kill by Hunt. WPI went on to build a five-point cushion (21-16) after a swipe by sophomore Kat Hurlock (Burlington, CT). The Monks quickly made it a one-point set and forced a WPI timeout at 21-20. The sides traded side outs as SJC staved off a set point before a miscue allowed the Engineers to tie the match at 1-1. 

The Monks opened the third with a 4-0 run and never looked back to take the 2-1 lead into the fourth set despite WPI staving off four set points courtesy of three attack miscues and an ace by freshman Holly Shumway (Franklin, MA)..

The fourth set saw the Engineers open up a 14-7 lead and eventually push their lead to 10 three times on their way to forcing the deciding set. 

Hunt finished with another double-double of 15 kills and 22 digs while junior Shay Feeley (Franklin, MA) logged 25 assists, 13 digs and three aces, and Bakhtyari added 16 helpers and 14 digs. Sophomore Melissa Daigle (Norfolk, MA) collected 13 kills and classmate Brooke Klepper (Miami Beach, FL) tallied nine blocks assists to go with five from Bircsak. Junior Cassandra Tomerlin (La Quinta, CA) led the Engineers with 25 digs as sophomore Ann Kaczowka (Seekonk, MA) recorded 13 along with three service aces. 

Gosselin and classmate Victoria Huntley (Ellsworth, ME) turned in double-doubles for the Monks with 11 kills to go with 17 digs and 21 digs, respectively. Wachowiak paced all student-athletes with 21 kills while Hebert handed out a match-best 43 assists and rookie Jennelle Thompson (Farmington, NH) racked up a match-high 40 digs. Senior Abbie McPhee (Epping, NH) chipped in with 16 digs for the Monks. 

WPI heads to Plymouth State tomorrow for a pair of non-conference matches as the Engineers face Salem State at noon and host Panthers at 2pm. Saint Joseph's continues on to New Haven to take on GNAC foes Albertus Magnus and Anna Maria tomorrow at 11am and 1pm, respectively.

Click HERE if the video does not appear below