CHAPEL HILL, N.C., Sept. 13, 2013 – Sophomore outside hitters MacKenzie Kleespies (Lincoln University, Pa./Avon Grove) and Meghan Niski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) combined for 21 kills and 19 digs to lead the James Madison volleyball team to a 3-0 sweep over Albany in the opening game of the Carolina Classic, Friday evening.
JMU won by set scores of 25-9, 25-12, 25-23 to improve to 3-5 on the season. The loss dropped Albany to 0-7 on the year.
Kleespies led the way for the Dukes, finishing with her team-leading fourth double-double of the season. She had a match-high 11 kills and 12 digs, adding an assist and a block. Niski contributed 10 kills on .417 hitting, terminating 10 of her 24 attack attempts without an error. The sophomore chipped in seven digs, two blocks, two service aces and an assist to supply a team-high 13 points. Freshman right side Janey Goodman (Powhatan, Va./Powhatan) added seven kills on .357 hitting and three blocks.
Redshirt junior setter Kristi Richardson (Glen Allen, Va./Hermitage) paced the Dukes to a .305 attack percentage with 29 assists to go with seven digs, four kills, two aces and a block. Junior middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs) led the team with five blocks while sophomore libero Sierra Hahn-Ventrell (Chevy Chase, Md./Bethesda-Chevy Chase) tied Kleespies with a match-high 12 digs.
The Great Danes were limited to a .028 attack percentage, led by outside hitter Laini Leindecker with eight kills and nine digs. Outside hitter Olivia Schonewise added four kills, but committed 10 attack errors for a -.261 percentage. Middle blocker Amanda Dolan led Albany with three blocks, including two solo rejections while setter Rebecca Rivera had 20 assists and five digs.
The Dukes outhit the Great Danes .305 to .028 and held an 8-3 lead in blocks. JMU terminated 40 kills to 26 for Albany. Madison also led in aces, 4-2, and digs, 45-38.
JMU took control early in set one, breaking a 2-2 tie by winning 11 of the next 15 points to build a 13-6 advantage. The Great Danes never got closer than six the remainder of the set as the Dukes closed out the 25-9 victory. Kleespies paced her team, terminating six kills and serving out a 7-0 run to close the set.
The Dukes won the first four points in set two and never ceded that advantage, going on to claim the set 25-12. This time it was Niski’s turn to pace the squad with four kills, two aces and an assist.
Albany came out strong in set three, using an 8-2 run to jump out to a 10-7 lead. The teams stayed close the remainder of the set. Trailing 21-19 in the set, the Dukes called timeout and responded by winning six of the final eight points to seal the match. During the closing run, JMU received kills from three different players, including two from Goodman.
The Dukes return to action in the Carolina Classic on Saturday as they take on No. 18 North Carolina at noon and George Washington at 5:30 p.m. in Carmichael Arena.
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