The Holly Young Invitational Tournament made its annual return to Lundholm Gymnasium as the Wildcats faced off against Holy Cross, Sacred Heart University and Idaho State University. The ‘Cats impressed the home town crowd as they knocked off Holy Cross and Idaho State to finish second place in the tournament.
Holly Young was a freshman volleyball player at UNH when she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. She lost her three-year battle with cancer in 2008. The UNH Volleyball team hosts this annual invitational tournament to honor its former teammate.
“She had a big smile on her face and little dimples and we want to keep her spirit and her memory alive,” head coach Jill Hirschinger said.
The ‘Cats started tournament play off against Holy Cross and it was all blue and white for the entirety of the match. Senior captain Demi Muses tallied 15 kills and 18 digs to lead the team in their sweep over the Crusaders. Freshman Emily Tanski added nine kills and 12 digs.
“We really played extremely well, we hit incredible,” Hirschinger said after the win.
Next up for the Wildcats was a date against Sacred Heart. The visiting Pioneers edged UNH 26-24 in the first two sets forcing the ‘Cats to play from behind and attempt a comeback. After an 11-0 run propeled them to the third set victory, they lost in the fourth set 28-13.
“We just weren’t clicking,” Hirschinger said after the first two sets. “We changed our lineup around, it seemed like it created energy for us.”
Muses and Tanski led the charge again for UNH, both recording double-doubles, Muses with 18 kills and 16 digs, and Tanski with 13 kills and 16 digs.
The final test for UNH was a match against Idaho State, the first meeting in history between these two programs. After losing the first set, the Wildcats railed to win the next three, giving them a 2-1 record on the weekend. Senior Keelin Severtson tailed 49 assists and Demi Muses added 22 kills.
“It was a whole team effort from our passing to our defense, to our setting to our offense,” Hirschinger said.
“We turned [the energy] around,” Emily Tanski said. “Winning three straight [sets] is pretty hard to do.”
The Wildcats fell short of first place in the tournament as the Pioneers of Sacred Heart went undefeated in tournament play.
Tanski and Muses were named to the Holly Young Invitational All-Tournament team after their impressive performances.
The Wildcats may have increased their record back to .500 7-7 overall, but the team still looks to improve on recent success. The team needs to continue their growth and coach Hirschinger offers her solution.
“We just need to play like we’re ahead all the time. We’re a good team and we have to play like we’re ahead.” She said.
“We can improve on staying consistent with our energy,” Tanski added.
The Wildcats got off to a slow start early in the season, but has started to pick up the pace of play in their most recent matchups. As young as the team is, the Wildcats have the potential to make some noise come conference play. The young group grows more confident by the day and chemistry has been built. When they click on all cylinders, the ‘Cats pose to be a dangerous threat in America East play.
The Wildcats look to build on the performance against Idaho State when they square up against Northeastern on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. in Lundholm Gymnasium.