UNH rode their two game winning streak into Rhode Island on Sept. 6 playing a familiar out-of conference-foe, the Bryant Bulldogs. The ‘Cats were in contention for all three sets, but Bryant pulled away a clean three-set sweep.
Unlike in games of horseshoes, and bocce ball, coming close doesn’t matter in the final score when it comes to volleyball. UNH lost all three sets by a combined 15 points, as it was head to head with the Bulldogs the whole match.
UNH struggled, but head coach Jill Hirschinger gives credit where credit is due.
“I have to give Bryant credit,” Hirschinger said. “Everywhere we play we have a target on our back. We got their A-game.”
Senior captain Demi Muses led the way on the stat sheet notching a double-double with 11 kills and 11 digs. Kennedi Smith, one of the eight freshman on this year’s roster, tallied 10 kills. Fellow classmate Emily Tanski was one kill away from her own double-double (9 kills-11 digs).
The Wildcats battled back and forth with Bryant in the first set until Bryant went on a 5-0 run to build up a lead and hold on for the opening set victory 25-20.
Bryant jumped to a quick 8-2 lead in the second set and closed out straight points to put themselves just out of reach for a comeback. UNH fell in the second set 25-19.
With their backs against the wall, the ‘Cats needed in the third set to start a comeback in hopes of winning the match. UNH got what they wanted, a close set. No team led by more than three points which gave the Wildcats a chance for a comeback. Two attacking errors gave Bryant the chance to pull away. They took advantage and finished the set 25-21, and swept the match.
UNH now falls to 3-4 with a tough stretch of road games ahead when they travel to play Rutgers, Temple and Cleveland State in a tournament in Philadelphia.
The ‘Cats have remained at the top the past few years as they’ve won the past three America East championships. With the banners hung high in Lundholm Gymnasium, excellence is the expectation in Durham.
With a tough start to the season, Hirschinger knows what the ‘Cats need to do.
“We need our identity,” Hirschinger said. She also mentioned how the ‘Cats seem to be playing other teams style, not their own.
Given the recent loss and the upcoming road trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the leaders of this Wildcat volleyball team have an opportunity to showcase their abilities. Senior captain Demi Muses has one final year in a Wildcat uniform. Her and fellow senior captain Keelin Severtson add experience which can be a lethal mix with the young talent on the squad heading into the upcoming matchups.
“It’s a good combo. [The seniors] give great leadership to the younger players,” Hirschinger said.
The Wildcats take a trip to the city of brotherly love starting on Friday Sept. 9 against Rutgers. They return home Sept. 13 when they take on Ivy League member Harvard.