HARRISONBURG, Va., Sept. 29, 2012 – Three players collected double digit kills, led by senior outside hitter Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) with 16, as the James Madison volleyball team rallied past George Mason for a 3-1 win at Sinclair Gymnasium on Saturday night.
JMU won by set scores of 22-25, 29-27, 25-15, 25-12 for its eighth win in its last 10 matches. The Dukes improved to 9-7 overall and 2-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association while the Patriots dropped to 3-12 and 1-1 in league play.
“I’m excited to get a win against a good team,” volleyball head coach Lauren Steinbrecher said. “I was pumped to see the team fight through some adversity in the beginning. In the first two sets, I thought Mason played real well and we responded to that well.”
Erb’s 16 kills came on .325 hitting, committing just three errors in 40 attempts. She had a double-double with 12 digs, four blocks and two service aces. The senior moved into 10th on the school’s all-time digs list with 989. She passed Lindsay Callahan (2007-10) for 10th and needs just 11 more to become the fourth player in school history with 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs.
Sophomore middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs) added a career-high 15 kills on .414 hitting with three blocks and two service aces. Redshirt senior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) also had a double-double with 11 kills, 16 digs, three aces, one block and an assist. Freshman outside hitter MacKenzie Kleespies (Lincoln University, Pa./Avon Grove) came off the bench to add seven kills and seven digs in just three sets played. Freshman middle blocker Sarah Delaney (Herndon, Va./South Lakes) contributed three kills and four blocks for the Dukes.
Junior libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant) paced the Madison defense with 23 digs, adding three assists, a kill and a service ace. Senior setter Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian) led the Dukes to a .270 team attack percentage, handing out 44 assists with six digs and three kills.
Mason was led by outside hitter Lana Zonjic with 16 kills on .209 hitting. She had a double-double with 10 digs, a service ace and an assist. Middle blocker Lolade Owokoniran added 10 kills and a match-high six blocks while middle blocker Danielle Cook had nine kills and six digs. Setter Tori Price had 41 assists, five blocks, nine digs, two aces and a kill. Libero Stephi Matsushima contributed a team-high 13 digs.
The first set was a back-and-forth contest, featuring seven tie scores and four lead changes. The Dukes led 3-1 early, but gave up a four-point run to fall behind 5-3. The Patriots extended that lead to 10-6 with a 3-0 run and forced Madison to take the match’s first timeout. Steinbrecher’s crew responded to the timeout, coming out to tie the score by winning four straight points. JMU used a pair of Briones kills and a Mason attack error to regain the lead at 15-14, but lost seven of the next 11 points to give the lead back to the Patriots. The teams traded points the remainder of the set with GMU eventually winning the set 25-22.
The Dukes looked in control of set two with a 19-12 lead, but gave up a seven-point run with defensive specialist Morghan Martin on serve. JMU regained its footing and reached its first set point at 24-22. It lost the next three points to fall behind 25-24, but fought off Mason’s set point with GMU service error and a kill by Briones. The Patriots held off two more set points, but the Dukes eventually won the set with a kill by Abel and a dual block from Erb and Delaney.
Set three was all JMU from the beginning as it never trailed in the set. They built leads of 8-3 and 18-10 to gain control of the set. GMU got as close as six at 21-15, but JMU used four kills from three different players to close the set on a 4-0 run.
The Dukes won the first three points of set four and never let the Patriots get closer than two points the remainder of the way. They eventually extended the lead out to 16-11 before using an eight-point run with Erb serving to reach match point at 24-11. Mason won one more point on a ball handling error, but an attack error put the match away 25-12.
JMU returns to action next weekend as it plays its first road matches of the CAA schedule. Madison travels to Hofstra on Friday for a 7 p.m. match before visiting Northeastern on Sunday at 1 p.m.
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