By Greg Laudani, Staff Writer

Cameron  Johnson/STAFF Taylor Dunklau recorded seven digs versus Albany on Sunday.

Cameron Johnson/STAFF
Taylor Dunklau recorded seven digs versus Albany on Sunday.

Junior co-captain Tori Forrest paced the Wildcats with 16 kills and 10 digs, but the UNH volleyball team was defeated in three sets (18-25, 23-25, 23-25) by the University at Albany in UNH’s annual Dig Pink game, played in honor of breast cancer awareness, on Sunday, Oct. 5 at Lundholm Gymnasium.

The  Dig Pink game supports the Side-Out Foundation, a charity established in 2004 to unite volleyball players and coaches to further breast cancer awareness, education and patient services.

Alongside Forrest in their pink jerseys in support of breast cancer awareness, junior Cassidy Croci and co-captain Abby Brinkman notched eight kills each to pace the ‘Cats offense. Sophomore Demi Muses collected 12 digs and three kills.

After dropping the first set, 25-18, the Wildcats (9-11, 2-1 America East) found themselves in prime position to tie the match at the end of the second set.

Tied 18-18, Forrest rifled her 11th kill of the match to put UNH ahead 23-19. This gave the ‘Cats their largest lead of the set and momentum appeared to be shifting in the their direction, but Albany (4-11, 2-1 AE) turned the tables on UNH.

The Great Danes fought back to even the score 23-23 before breaking through with the set’s final two points to claim a two sets to none lead. Albany sophomore outside hitter Laini Leindecker, who ranks second in America East in kills (3.00 per set), recorded six of her team-high 14 putaways during the second frame.

Falling behind by two sets in this one, UNH junior co-captain Katie Sattora after the match about how Albany was able to take and hold control of the match. 

“They were the predator, and we were the prey,” UNH junior co-captain Katie Sattora said. “I think they took control a little bit, and we kind of took the back seat.”

Despite being the “prey”, as Sattora pointed out, UNH still had a chance to extend the match after falling behind by two sets. The Wildcats scraped in the third set to try to force a fourth set, but their greatest opportunity to seize momentum had already passed. The teams traded points consistently throughout the third, but the Great Danes were able to put the match away with a 25-23 victory.

The ‘Cats recorded a .067 hitting percentage during the final set, which is far below their season average of .198 percent. That being said, UNH head coach Jill Hirschinger spoke postgame about her team’s costly mistakes.

“We made a lot of errors today that we normally don’t make,” Hirschinger said. “And if you look at the last points of the game, it was our errors. We did some really good things to get there, but at the end you have to finish.”

Even though the Wildcats did not get a win, players were happy to take part in the Dig Pink game to raise awareness for breast cancer.

“We talk in practice about whether we’ve been impacted by cancer or we know someone who has; it’s everywhere,” Forrest said. “It’s a disease that we want to try to raise awareness for and raise money to support and give back to the community.”

UNH’s nine remaining matches are against conference opponents. It plays its next three games away from Lundholm Gymnasium, starting Sunday, Oct. 12 at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

After playing its last nine matches at home, the ‘Cats are motivated to show their America East foes they can win away from Durham.

“It’s been nice being home but I think we’re all ready to get out there and take some games on other people’s courts,” Sattora said.